Caring for baby teeth is one of the most forgotten lessons with parents today and dentists are cautioning against this neglect. Not only do the permanent teeth require baby teeth to pave the way for growth, but they also play a major role in the child’s development of their face and mouth structures and muscles. Neglecting these teeth can cause many issues with your child and their permanent teeth.
What Is the Purpose of Baby Teeth?
Most children have a majority of their baby teeth by the age of three and are essential for many more reasons than just chewing and eating. They also help with speech development, providing a good foundation before developing permanent teeth, as well as promoting good nutrition by chewing essential foods. Baby teeth are important for children to learn how to care for their teeth before the permanent ones come in.
Baby Teeth Are Just as Important as Permanent Teeth
Not only are baby teeth essential for developing healthy dental habits but they are also vital in the emotional, physical, and social development of children.
The three most important reasons to care for baby teeth just as well as you care for permanent teeth include:
- Concentration and Self-Esteem: When a child is experiencing dental pain it can distract them from concentrating on other things such as school and take away from their attention. Decayed teeth can also affect the self-esteem of the child in their social interactions and decrease their confidence.
- Speech and Facial Development: The tongue, lips, and cheeks all work with the teeth to form sounds when speaking and improper positioning or care of the teeth can affect how the child speaks. The tooth structure also provides support for the developing muscles in the mouth and face and gives the child’s face its shape.
- Tooth Alignment and Position: Baby teeth pave the way for the development of permanent teeth. They leave the open space needed for the permanent teeth and if the tooth is lost early due to improper care, then the adjacent teeth can begin shifting and twisting which will affect the growth and placement of the permanent teeth.
How To Care For Your Child’s Teeth
Caring for baby teeth can be a big job in the beginning, but as your child gets older the job will get easier as your child becomes more capable of maintaining good oral hygiene. It is important to start caring for their teeth from the beginning; a few days after birth begin cleaning your baby’s mouth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist piece of gauze or washcloth. A child’s front two teeth usually begin growing between 6 months and 14 months of age depending on the baby. Once they are about three years old, they start brushing their teeth as they grow in the mouth and use a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste. If you are unsure about which toothpaste is safe to use, asking a pediatric dentist or reading the labels will tell you for sure. Make sure they brush in the morning and night and supervise them if they insist on doing it themselves.
Children between the ages of three and up continue using fluoride toothpaste and supervising them while brushing their teeth. This time is your opportunity to teach them how to brush properly. Supervision can then be stopped as soon as you feel comfortable with their brushing skills, and once they have two teeth that are close to or are touching they should be learning how to floss as well.
What If You Don’t Take Care of Your Child’s Teeth?
As a parent, it is your responsibility to engrain good habits in your child, including oral hygiene habits. If you don’t take good care of their teeth you are setting a bad example for them and you may even be doing damage to the permanent teeth. Some parents believe that just because they are baby teeth and will eventually fall out that they don’t have to care for them as if they are permanent teeth. While it is true that they will most likely fall out, creating good habits with the baby teeth is essential in ensuring your child knows how and is capable of taking care of their permanent teeth. If they are not taught these habits young, they will treat their permanent teeth just the same and suffer from cavities in addition to many other dental problems.
Another reason why caring for your child’s baby teeth is so important is because cavities and other dental issues can lead to severe pain and discomfort when they are left untreated and can leave your child feeling miserable. Their teeth may even result in an infection and can affect the permanent teeth waiting below.
Your child’s first dental visit should be around the age of one, where the dentist will check on the growth and development of the teeth as well as check for any cavities and other problems. They can also teach you how to teach your child how to brush and handle habits such as thumb sucking.
Find an Experienced Pediatric Dentist Near You
Taking little kids and babies to the dentist a few times can be quite a feat and very difficult for many parents. As we all know little kids are usually not a fan of change or even new things, especially something like the dentist where they are expected to allow a perfect stranger into their mouth in an office they have never been to. It can be a scary experience for a child, even when the staff and the parents try hard to make it enjoyable. That is exactly why it is so important to find a pediatric dentist that you can trust and that will treat your child like their own. Contact Granger Pediatric Dentistry to make an appointment for your child today and get started on developing those health hygiene habits.