Healthy Dental Habits for Children
Did you know that children’s baby teeth are at risk for decay AS SOON as they first appear! Teeth in children typically first appear around the age of 6 months and children will have a full set of 20 baby teeth by the time they are 3-years old. The best news is that infant/toddler tooth decay is very preventable! Most cases often occur in the upper front teeth, this is referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, but other teeth potentially could be affected. In rare cases, children experience decay so severe that their teeth cannot be saved and need to be removed… but thank goodness they are the baby teeth.
Let’s talk about cleaning your child’s teeth and what you need to know:
- It’s suggested to begin cleaning your baby’s mouth the first few days after birth; wiping the gums clean with a moist gauze pad or washcloth.
- AS soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. The first four teeth usually push through the gums around six months of age (although don’t be upset if this doesn’t happen… some children don’t have their first tooth until twelve to fourteen months of age).
- As parents, you’ll have to gauge if your child is comfortable enough to brush his/her own teeth… until that time – parents should brush their child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Once the child has two teeth that touch, parents should begin cleaning between their teeth daily.
- Any child younger than three, parents should begin brushing their teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in very minimal amounts.
- Always remind children to NOT swallow the toothpaste
Next, we are going to brush the subject of teething… OUCH! Teething signs usually appear generally about six months after birth. During the first years of your child’s life, all 20 baby teeth will push their way through the gums and they will have their first full set of teeth by the age of three. As the teeth erupt, many babies become fussy… WHO WOULDN’T? As soon as those first teeth appear… it is time to schedule a time to go see the dentist. The ADA suggests the first dental visit take place within six months after the first tooth appears! First visits mainly are for the dentist to examine your child’s mouth and check for development… it is also helpful for your child to become comfortable.
Here are some ideas to help make the dentist a less scary place:
- Morning appointments may be best, as many children ten to be much more rested.
- Never use dental office as a punishment and bribes are not the way to go.
- It’s important that the parents keep any concerns or anxiety to themselves.
- Discuss the dentist and what the visit will be like
All in All, dental visits have the potential to be a not so scary place for children… they say if the preventive care is up to par, there really isn’t too much to worry about while the child matures. It’s true, we do only get one set of teeth (not including the baby set)… so it’s important to start them young.