Good oral hygiene habits in childhood can build the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health. Today, our Delta dentists share tips on how to help your child keep a healthy smile.
Your little one is growing and so is their smile! During your child's first few years it is important to ensure that their baby teeth are well cared for so they develop good oral hygiene habits that will stick with them for life.
In this post, we'll explain the importance of baby teeth and how you can help your toddler maintain a healthy smile now and in the years to come.
How important are baby teeth?
You may be asking yourself how important baby teeth really are as they are temporary and will eventually fall out. The answer is very!
Baby teeth play many critical roles in our young patients' mouths — and lives. They are used for eating, speaking, and smiling. A child's baby teeth also hold space in the jaws for their adult teeth.
The first baby teeth to come in are typically the front bottom teeth, which start to emerge through the gums when your child is about 6 months old. The last baby teeth are usually in the very back of the mouth in the upper jaw and erupt around age 3. At this point, your child will likely have 10 top teeth and 10 bottom teeth.
At approximately age 6, your child will start to lose their first baby teeth and adult teeth will begin to emerge. The natural timing of this tooth loss is important — if your child loses a baby tooth too early, contact your child's dentist to find out how the correct space can be kept in the mouth so adult teeth can emerge normally.
How should I care for baby teeth?
Now is prime time to set a solid dental healthcare routine for your child. Combine at-home oral care with regular dental visits to keep your child's smile healthy.
Brush twice per day (morning and night) to prevent cavities.
Your newborn's gums should be wiped with a wet cloth or pad to keep their mouth clean. For children under age 3, use a rice-sized grain of child-friendly toothpaste on an ultra-soft toothbrush. For children 3 years and older, use a pea-sized amount.
Once your child is able to spit out all of the toothpaste after brushing, ask your dentist if this is a good time to switch to fluoridated toothpaste. Help your child brush their teeth each time until you can be sure that your child can thoroughly brush each tooth themselves. Besides brushing, here are a few other tips for good oral hygiene for your child:
Limit sugary or acidic treats
Fruit juice and soda can be high in sugar and acid, which can be harmful to your child's baby teeth. Sugary snacks such as candy should also be limited since tooth enamel is weakened by sugar and can increase the likelihood of your child developing cavities.
Begin flossing once all baby teeth have erupted. Talk to your dentist about special flossing devices that are available for children.
See your child's dentist regularly
We recommend that parents book their child's first dental appointment no later than their first birthday. By this time, the first baby tooth should have emerged. The dentist will examine your child's mouth to check for cavities or plaque, can advise when to expect your baby's next tooth, and give tips on how to care for your child's teeth at home. Children should visit the dentist every 6 months for a professional checkup and cleaning.
Look into fluoride treatment
This proactive measure can help protect your child's teeth against cavities.
Consider dental sealants for your child
These special coatings can be applied to the grooves and pits of a child's molars (back teeth) to keep cavities from forming in the tooth's biting surfaces. If your child is at high risk for cavities, your dentist may recommend sealants.