Your Child’s Baby Teeth Play a Big Role in Their Oral Health
It’s easy to assume that baby teeth aren’t too important because they’re going to fall out anyway. However, neglecting those important baby teeth can cause a lifetime of trouble.
Kids and Cavities
We love our kids and want to do what’s best for them, but they don’t always make that so easy. However, skipping brushing their teeth or allowing our children to snack all day can put them at a higher risk for cavities. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that nearly 25% of children between the ages of two and five already have cavities. In addition, preschoolers who have cavities in their baby teeth are three times as likely to develop them in their permanent teeth.
Unfortunately, you aren’t able to pull out decayed baby teeth and swear to do better once their permanent teeth come in. In fact, pulling a decayed baby tooth can cause additional problems because they serve as placeholders for the adult ones. Without those placeholders, adjacent teeth can drift into that space, interfering with the growth of permanent teeth.
Kids can have cavities for lots of reasons, including eating too many sweets and then topping that off with not brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. But it goes beyond the basics: the bacteria that causes cavities can continue to infect a child’s teeth after the decayed one falls out, which is why it’s so important to establish consistently healthy habits.
Caring for Your Child’s Teeth From the Start
It’s important to care for your child’s teeth from the very beginning to establish healthy oral habits that will last a lifetime. Here are our top tips for caring for your child’s teeth:
For Your Baby: Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth by wiping their gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. A baby’s first four teeth usually push through the gums around 6 months, but some children won’t see their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
For Children Under 3: Start brushing their teeth as soon as they come in with a fluoride toothpaste. You don’t need to use more toothpaste than the size of a grain of rice. Brush twice a day (or as directed by a dentist) and supervise your children’s brushing to ensure they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste. Once your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin cleaning their teeth daily.
For Children From 3-6: Using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, brush teeth thoroughly twice per day. Supervise your child’s brushing and remind them to not swallow the toothpaste.
For Children 6 and Up: Until your child is able to brush on their own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice per day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.