A parent’s guide to taking care of teeth right from the start!
We love seeing our young friends at Oakfield Dental! We believe that starting good dental habits and establishing a comfortable environment are extremely important at a young age. Come visit our kid-friendly office complete with great flavored dental supplies, sunglasses, tooth necklaces, and prizes! Bring them in as early as age 1!
Baby teeth are important!
Avoid the trap of thinking that baby teeth will “just fall out.”
Decayed teeth can cause pain and infections (abscesses). Extracting teeth prematurely due to decay can cause problems with speech, crowding, configuration of teeth, and development of bones. Baby teeth help guide permanent teeth into the right spot. If baby teeth are decayed, it is more likely that the following permanent teeth will be, too. Early childhood cavities are the most common disease in children and are responsible for the most missed school days.
Tips to keep your baby's teeth healthy
•Keep the gums healthy by wiping with a clean cloth, even before teeth appear.
•When the 1st tooth appears, clean the tooth by wiping with a clean damp cloth every day. Switch to a small soft toothbrush when more teeth come in and use just a smear of toothpaste (see picture).
•1st dentist visit: Children should first visit a dentist when the 1st tooth comes in and no later than age 1 to establish a dental home and seen every 6 months.
•Help your child to brush his or her teeth twice daily and floss daily until your child has the manual dexterity to do so alone (around age 8). A good test of dexterity is if they can tie their own shoelaces or write in cursive. Hold your child’s hand loosely to help transition him or her into brushing independently.
•If your child swallows too much fluoride toothpaste, the permanent teeth may grow in with unsightly white or brown spots (called “dental fluorosis”), so use only a small smear-sized amount under the age of 3 and less than a small pea-sized amount when they are able to consistently spit (see picture), and rinse well.
•Cavity bacteria can be transferred from caregiver to child, so avoid sharing spoons.
•If you live in an area with fluoridated water and brush twice daily, your family should be getting an adequate supply of fluoride to protect their teeth. Otherwise a fluoride supplement may be recommended if your child is older than 6 months. Bottled water and filters may or may not contain fluoride.
•Do not dip the pacifier in honey or syrup and do not give infants anything but water in their baby bottles or sipper cups at night. Children are more susceptible to getting cavities with prolonged bottle or breastfeeding.
•Avoid rewarding children with sugary treats. If giving children sweets, try to give it during meal times and not as snacks to minimize the exposure and frequency of sugar to the teeth.
•Encourage drinking juice and sugary beverages through straws.
•Liquid medications often have high amounts of sugar, so dispense at mealtime and rinse with water afterward.
•Sealants prevent cavities from forming on the chewing surface of teeth by physically blocking deep grooves on teeth. Sealants are done when children grow permanent molars (around age 6 and 12) but also benefit adults. Ask if sealants would benefit your family!
•Teething infants should have a temperature of less than 100 degrees, otherwise call your physician.
•Spacing is normal in baby teeth; they allow room for the permanent teeth to grow in.
Avoiding Bad Habits
•Thumb sucking should end by the age of 5, or before permanent teeth come in.
•Tongue thrusting is a habit that should be discouraged because teeth can form or erupt abnormally.
•Primarily breathing with one's mouth can cause the gums to be red and irritated. Mouth-breathing can be a sign of enlarged tonsils, nasal congestion, and etc. so talk to your pediatrician.
Start good dental habits when your children are young!