Taking really good care of your child’s baby teeth is of an utmost importance. People very often think those baby teeth shouldn’t be taken care of the same way as the permanent teeth since they fall off. But, of course, that this is not true. Many parents are struggling with questions on how and when they should start taking proper care of their kid’s oral cavity. They all want the best for their children but are not familiar with many of the issues.
The importance of baby teeth
You might not think that baby teeth are not as important as permanent teeth but they really are. The milk teeth are essential for the proper growth of the baby’s jaws and development of the muscles. They also hold the space for the future permanent teeth. They help the child eat, smile, talk and swallow. If baby teeth are extracted prematurely there might be problems later on with the permanent teeth. It can lead to several malocclusions and crowded or crooked teeth. If baby teeth are not taken care of, that can lead to dental caries, gum inflammation, and other conditions. This can cause damage to the permanent teeth that are placed inside the jaw bones.
When should you start taking care of your kid’s teeth?
Good oral hygiene should start even before the baby teeth erupt. This is a constant process of keeping the oral cavity clean at all times and removing all of the food remains and bacteria. This care should start right after the baby is born and continue until the kid learns how to properly do it by himself. The first visit to the dentist should be during the first year after the baby is born. Your dentist will examine your baby and help you with any questions that you have. After that, the dentist will schedule regular check-ups, just to make sure that everything is developing at the right pace.
Taking care of the gums
Right after your baby is born you should start taking care of the gums. You can use a soft and wet washcloth or a special baby toothbrush to clean the gums and remove bacteria. It is also easier and better if you add just a tiny bit of toothpaste. With several gentle movements just go over the gums with the washcloth and that’s pretty much it. The best time to do it is right after feeding and the easiest way is to wrap the washcloth around your finger.
Babies start teething between 4 and 7 months old. Of course, there are some exceptions when babies grow their first teeth before 4 months or after 7 months. Usually, there is no need for worry, but just to be safe you should visit a dentist. Some babies don’t show any signs at all when their milk teeth start to erupt, while others can be fussy, irritated and have trouble sleeping. They will produce more saliva than usual and their gums might be a bit swollen and red. All of this is a normal process. There are certain medications that might help your baby, and ease the symptoms of teething, but you should always talk to the dentist first.
Once the first teeth appear in the mouth you should start brushing them with a special toothbrush for children twice a day. Use just a little bit of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Fluoride toothpaste is recommended for kids older than 3 years. Always make sure that your child spits out the toothpaste. Swallowing it will be harmful. If you need any help with the advice you can always turn to your dentist. The brushing should be done in the morning and right before going to bed. You shouldn’t give your baby any type of food or drinks after you’ve washed their teeth before going to bed.
You should start with flossing when the primary teeth are getting close one to another. That is usually between the ages of two and six. They will learn how to floss themselves around the age of 10.
Parents usually brush their children’s teeth until the age of two or three, but there isn’t a general rule about this. After that, you should educate them on how they should do it and when they should do it. Some kids have a hard time understanding the importance of oral hygiene, but you have to be persistent. You should supervise them every time they brush, floss and rinse. You can try and make the whole experience more fun for them by letting them choose their toothbrush or toothpaste. You should always let them know when they’ve done a good job, and even reward them sometimes.
How to prevent caries?
If you notice white spots or discoloration on your baby’s teeth it might be a sign of dental caries. If the caries is not treated on time, it can lead to permanent damage to the milk teeth, or even affect the permanent teeth. That is why you should schedule regular dental checkups.
There are certain factors that can increase the chances of caries. The first one is always improper oral hygiene. If you don’t brush their teeth twice a day. Another factor that has a very big influence is the bottle of milk or juice. If you let your baby go to sleep with a bottle full of milk or juice is the same thing as letting them go to sleep with a mouth full of sugar. Many parents are not aware of this fact and tend to do this. This is a very bad habit that causes caries to spread on many teeth in the mouth. If your kid eats a lot of sweet food that will also increase the chances of tooth decay. Instead, choose food that is rich in calcium that protects the teeth.
How to regulate the fluoride intake?
Fluoride is very important for preventing tooth decay. It is important to know whether your kid is getting enough fluoride. You can turn to your pediatric district to let you know if the kids are getting enough fluoride with tap water or if they need supplements. Your dentist should be the one to prescribe the supplements.