Parents: Pay Attention to Baby Teeth
Did you know that a baby’s primary teeth are already present in the jaw at birth? While you shouldn’t expect to see them in your infant’s mouth until at least six months of age, from their origin they play an important role in the oral health of your growing child.
Primary or “baby” teeth enable a child to speak, and chew food. They also create and save space for the permanent teeth of the future. Their visible arrival in your baby’s mouth – also known as eruption – can result in sore or tender gums and typically are accompanied by pain and crankiness. Simple methods for soothing this discomfort include gently rubbing your baby’s teeth with a clean finger, cold spoon, or wet gauze pad. You can also use a clean, cool teething ring or even a wet, frozen towel or washcloth to ease the pain.
Typically by the age of 3, all 20 primary teeth have arrived in a child’s mouth. With this in mind, establishing good oral care habits early – when they are still infants – can provide a lifetime of protection. Losing a baby tooth due to lack of care can be problematic, as it allows the underlying permanent teeth to drift into empty space and block or disrupt others.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that a child visits the dentist for the first time within six months of the first primary tooth eruption or no later than his or her first birthday. While very little other than a simple, non-evasive checkup will be completed, your dentist can provide helpful advice and recommendations on early care a prevention tactics.
Here are some tips on starting oral care early with your children:
- Wipe your baby’s mouth in the days after birth with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth
- Brush teeth as soon as they start to appear using a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste
- Children ages 3 to 6 should brush twice per day with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste
- Once neighboring teeth grow in and begin to touch, start the use of dental floss
The birth of a child and early years are a time of joy, excitement, growth, and milestones. Be sure proper oral health awareness and care are a part of your parental plan – it could make a lifetime of difference!