Many patients think they know everything they need to about going to the dentist. But it’s a common misconception that dental treatments have stayed the same for decades. You may...
If you’re a new parent, there’s a lot going on right now that feels confusing and unfamiliar. Take this opportunity to clear up at least one factor – your new baby’s dental health. While your daughter or son may not yet have any pearly whites peeking through their gums, they’ll be showing up soon enough. And when they do, you’ll embark on a whole new adventure that will last until they’re living on your own.
It’s crucial that your kids learn how to brush, floss and eat healthy from the start – the skills and habits they learn while young are likely to last them a lifetime. Of course, some kids are more amenable to brushing and eating healthy than others – but no matter how your children feel, we can help them see the positive side of dental health. Schedule an appointment today to help engage them with their dental care.
Children’s Dental Health by Development Stage
How to Ensure Healthy Tooth Development
Even before their teeth erupt, your baby benefits from a healthy oral environment.
- Wipe their gums with a damp cloth or gauze after feeding to prevent bacteria buildup or milk pooling in the mouth.
- This is also important before bedtime and should be done at least twice a day.
- Doing so removes bacteria and prevents plaque from forming (it can form even before the teeth have erupted). If there’s already plaque in place, this can impact the teeth when they do erupt.
When your child begins teething, they may have sore gums and feel uncomfortable, and this may impact their sleep and mood.
- Babies typically begin teething by 6 months.
- Signs that your baby is teething include significant drooling, increased chewing on objects, crankiness, and a slight increase in temperature (but not a fever).
- Rub your baby’s gums with your finger or wet gauze to provide gentle pressure that helps ease discomfort.
- They can also chew on a cold spoon or teething ring, or a cold slice of apple. Don’t freeze any teething objects as this can be unsafe.
- If the discomfort persists, try over the counter infant pain medications.
Teeth typically begin appearing around 6 months. The front bottom teeth are usually the first to erupt, followed by the two front top teeth. All 20 teeth usually come between by the time your child is 2.5-3.
- Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush your child’s teeth twice a day.
- Use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste until your child can spit – no more than a grain of rice. They are typically able to spit out the toothpaste around 3 years old. At this point, graduate to a pea-sized drop.
- Find a toothpaste with a flavor that your child likes that is appropriate for their age according to the manufacturer’s label.
- Make sure to concentrate on brushing the molars, as this is where early cavities often develop.
- Begin flossing once all the baby teeth have come in.
- To avoid baby bottle tooth decay, don’t allow your child to go to sleep with a bottle containing milk, juice or anything other than water.
First Dental Exam
Your child’s first dental visit should typically take place by their first birthday, when they usually have several teeth visible in the mouth.
- Schedule exams every six months to help normalize the process and also allow for regular monitoring of your child’s tooth development.
- Find a dentist that has experience treating young patients as they will be more easily able to put them at ease.
- If you notice white or brown spots on any of your child’s teeth, or your child experiences an injury to the mouth, schedule a dental exam for professional care.
First Lost Tooth
Your child will likely lose their first tooth around 6 1/2 years of age, but this can be delayed by up to a year.
- The two lower front teeth are usually lost first, then the two upper front teeth. This is followed by the lateral incisors, first molars, and canines. The second molars are typically the last teeth lost.
- If a tooth is lost early from an injury or tooth decay, a permanent tooth could drift into the space. Make sure to follow up with your child’s dentist if any unexpected tooth loss occurs.
You can help your child take care of their permanent teeth by establishing good oral hygiene routines and maintaining a healthy family diet.
- Try dental health activities to show the effects of problem foods like soda and how they wear away enamel
- Make an oral hygiene chart for your kids to mark off daily brushing and flossing and reward streaks
- Monitor your kids’ oral hygiene to make sure they’re brushing and flossing properly and for long enough – make it a family activity!
- Try to limit snack options like raisins, dried fruit and other sticky treats that cling to the teeth. Give your kids any sweets at mealtimes to help saliva wash away bacteria and acids. Avoid soda and sports drinks for kids of all ages.
Your teen may benefit from orthodontic treatment and/or wisdom tooth removal. If you ever have questions about your teenager’s teeth, touch base with their dentist. They’ll take the appropriate x-rays to evaluate any concerns and propose a treatment plan. Alternative options like Invisalign offer straightening without self-consciousness-inducing metal brackets and wires.
If you’re ever looking for professional guidance, don’t hesitate to give us a call!