Most people assume that baby teeth aren’t as important as adult teeth since we lose them early in life. But the truth is that baby teeth really do matter for a variety of different reasons.
Background on Baby Teeth
An infant’s 20 primary teeth are already in place within the jaws at birth. They start to appear between 6 months and 1 year of age. The emergence of baby teeth often results in sore gums that can be alleviated with gentle rubbing. The average child will have all 20 primary teeth in place by the age of 3.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
Primary teeth are critically important as they help our little ones chew food and form words. Baby teeth also hold space for permanent teeth that will soon emerge from beneath the gums. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the adjacent teeth might drift into the empty space, making it challenging for adult teeth to find space when they finally come in. This is one of many reasons why taking your kid to a child’s dentist early in life is so important.
Don’t Delay That First Dental Visit
According to the American Dental Association, the first dental appointment should be scheduled within six months after the child’s first tooth comes in. Do not wait until beyond your child’s first birthday to have him or her seen by a dentist. This visit will give your dentist a chance to check your kiddo’s teeth for decay and other issues.
How You can Care for Your Little One’s Teeth
It is imperative that you take care of your child’s baby teeth from the get-go. The first step is to wipe your baby’s mouth in the first couple of days after birth. Use a washcloth or a moist gauze pad for this quick rub.
If your child is under the age of 3, brush his or her teeth three times per day and floss where teeth touch, as soon as the teeth have entered the mouth. Use fluoride toothpaste the size of a lentil. If your child is between 3 and 6 years old, use a little bit more toothpaste, roughly the size of a small pea and brush three times per day and floss where the teeth touch. Continue brushing your child’s teeth until you are confident that he or she can brush them on his or her own.
Kids start to get sufficient hand-eye coordination around the age of 8. If your child wants to brush and floss on his or her own, that’s great! Let he or she brush and floss, then an adult should follow up behind. An adult can brush and floss first, whichever method works best to get the job done.
Once your child has two teeth that touch, you can teach him or her how to floss! Encourage your child to floss each time he or she brushes to maintain oral health into adulthood. And don’t forget to schedule regular dental appointments at Playtime Dental.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 70 percent of children will experience cavities in their teeth by the age of 19. If left untreated, these cavities can lead to tooth loss and a lifetime of dental problems. Dental sealants are an option that protects the chewing grooves of the teeth from getting cavities.
Understanding Dental Sealants
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that is applied to chewing surfaces to prevent the tiny grooves and fissures in young teeth from developing cavities. These sealants bond into the small depressions, protecting teeth from bacteria that cause dental caries (cavities). The sealant is applied on teeth after cleaning any food or plaque from it.
The teeth are first roughened (etched) with an acid wash, and then, the sealant is painted onto them. It is then allowed to cure using a curing light. These sealants can last as long as 10 years and will protect the chewing, cheek or tongue surface of the teeth as children grow into young adulthood.
Dental sealants are an underused resource that can help children who have difficulty cleaning back teeth or who are vulnerable to cavities. The surfaces in between the teeth cannot be sealed so flossing is still the best way to protect the teeth from interproximal cavities.
Sealants Go Where Dental Caries Happens
Newly erupted teeth may have many very small grooves and indentations that catch food and may be difficult to clean properly. The teeth at the back of the mouth, in particular, can hold food debris that allows bacteria to thrive.
Sealing the chewing, cheek or tongue surfaces of back teeth ensures that bacteria will not be trapped in these mini crevices. Sealants can be particularly important for children who have thin tooth enamel or a tendency toward developing cavities easily.
Ongoing Preventative Care for Children
Dental sealants should be applied on newly erupted permanent molars and pre-molars. This generally occurs between the ages of 6 and 14. Sealants applied at this time can protect children’s teeth during these cavity-prone mid- childhood years. Dental sealants can be a useful part of preventative care for children’s oral health. They can provide that additional measure of protection against tooth decay that can lead to tooth loss.
Your child can enjoy oral health throughout his or her life if you form good habits early and visit your dentist regularly. Dental sealants can be part of the ongoing care your child needs to maintain an attractive and healthy smile. Call Playtime Dental today to schedule an appointment for your kiddo or if you have any questions!
To floss or not to floss is not the question. We all know children need to get on board with flossing. If you are wondering why your kids should floss, when they should floss, and/or how often they should floss, here are some things your child’s dentist wants you to know.
How Soon Should Children Start Flossing?
How soon should children start flossing? As soon as they have two teeth touching each other, because that is when food particles start getting stuck between teeth.
They will probably need your help until age 10 or 11 because children do not typically get good hand-eye coordination until around the ages of 8-10 and they might not get all the food particles. When they’re older, they’ll also have the manual dexterity to do a good job.
Why Do Children Need to Floss?
Simply put, our children need to floss to prevent cavity and gum disease. Plaque that isn’t removed by flossing and brushing can harden and cause problematic tartar also known as, calculus.
Is There an Ideal Time to Floss?
Decisions, decisions, decisions. You may have heard that old song, “The Night Time is the Right Time!” That may be the “right time” to be with the one you love, as the song says, but is there a right time or a wrong time to floss?
Should children floss before or after they brush their teeth? Surprisingly, more people floss before they brush than after. They’re probably thinking if they get little food particles out by flossing, then they can brush and gargle them away. However, many dentists say it doesn’t matter.
The important thing is that your children do floss every time they brush. So how often should they brush? Twice daily is normally recommended. However, if your child wants to be fanatic about something, brushing and flossing more often won’t hurt.
Just make sure that when you’re teaching your child to floss that you teach him or her to throw the floss away after using it and don’t save it for later. They might be “saving” bacteria, which will get back on their teeth when they floss the next time.
If you haven’t begun to educate your children on maintaining a healthy mouth, start now! If it’s time for your child’s next dental appointment, call our office today to schedule a visit with Playtime Dental.