I’m sure many of us have heard that phrase before. To me it means children deserve consideration. They are an important and necessary part of our lives. That thought leads me to my point this month: Baby Teeth are Teeth Too! They also are an important and necessary part of our lives that deserve consideration. Because primary teeth (baby teeth) are eventually replaced by permanent teeth, many people don’t realize that primary teeth are very important for a child’s long-term dental health.
Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food. Cavities and tooth loss can make it impossible for a child to eat properly. This can affect his or her overall level of health. Speech development can also be affected by premature tooth loss. In addition, lost teeth can also lower a child’s self-esteem during the important formative years.
Many of the primary teeth remain in the mouth until the child is eleven or twelve. During this time, they serve as space maintainers and ensure that the permanent teeth are properly aligned as they grow into the mouth. Early loss of teeth often causes misalignment of the permanent teeth and may even alter normal facial development. Orthodontic treatment is often necessary to correct these problems.
As you can see, baby teeth are critically important for a child’s health and development. It’s important to keep them in the mouth as long as possible. Lets talk more about how to do that.
Baby teeth need to be brushed. From the day they erupt, someone needs to brush them. Until the child is able, it needs to be a parent or care giver. At some point the child will want to (and should) take over. However, they need to be monitored so that every tooth is getting the attention it needs. Make sure the teeth are getting brushed on all three sides. Inside the mouth (under the tongue), the front (or smile) side and the chewing surfaces. Brush each tooth one at a time and use a soft brush with vibrating or gentle circular motions. Until your child can do an adequate job, you should brush for them after they finish doing it for themselves.
Once multiple teeth are in, they should be flossed. Many cavities form at the point where teeth touch. If these contact areas are flossed daily, the amount of decay your child experiences will drop dramatically. Most kids need help flossing until they are 7 or 8 years old. Until then, they may lack the motor skills to do an effective job.
Teeth need fluoride! Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens teeth and protects them from decay. Use a fluoride toothpaste. Only a pea size amount is needed for each brushing, but this gives your teeth a fluoride treatment that will make the enamel stronger. The forming and erupting permanent teeth also need fluoride to help strengthen the developing enamel. Most cities add the appropriate amount of fluoride to the drinking water. If you have well water or use bottled water, your child may need a fluoride supplement. Have your water tested, or check with your dentist or pediatrician for fluoride recommendations.
Finally, find a dental home for your child. Get them comfortable coming to the dentist and having their teeth cleaned and checked. Last month we talked about starting them off when they reach one year of age. After that we recommend a visit at 2 and 3 years of age and then every six months after that. Brushing, flossing, fluoride and regular dental care are the tools children need to have healthy teeth.
Thanks for reading.
Make sure to check out our website at: www.brucesextondds.com
and follow us on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/WaylandFamilyDentistBruceSexton?ref=s