As a parent, many questions will come up about your child’s health and development. Seeing those first tiny teeth coming in is especially exciting! Baby teeth give children new ways to speak and eat while serving as placeholders for their permanent teeth. When your child reaches this milestone, it’s time to start thinking about building healthy habits. At Accent Smile Center, you can find all of the answers you need about how to care for baby teeth and set your child up for a lifetime of smiles. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about baby teeth and caring for your child’s smile.
Baby Teeth Basics
You might be surprised that babies aren’t born without teeth. Babies are born with about 20 baby teeth hidden below the surface of the gums, waiting to erupt. Your baby will start teething around six months, and teeth will continue to erupt for up to three years.
While there is a general order in which baby teeth erupt, every child is unique, so if they deviate from “the norm,” there’s no need to worry. However, if you have questions about your child’s baby teeth, our team in Dickson is always happy to help.
Baby Teeth are Sensitive
They may be small, but baby teeth are susceptible to cavities and tooth decay. The thin layer of enamel covering baby teeth is thinner than adult teeth, so they’re more prone to decay. This can even cause infections in the permanent teeth below the surface.
Babies aren’t born with the bacteria that cause cavities to form—it’s transferred from parents to children. The best way to help avoid this is to maintain consistent oral hygiene for the whole family.
Brushing Baby Teeth
The best time to brush your baby’s teeth is when the first tooth erupts. It may seem early or unnecessary since they aren’t putting those tiny chompers to use just yet. Still, brushing is essential for healthy baby teeth.
Brushing your baby’s teeth twice a day is the best way to fight tooth decay and teach them healthy habits for their oral health. Here are a few tips for helping your child brush:
- Use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste (unfluoridated for children who haven’t mastered spitting the toothpaste out yet)
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Show them how to hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle.
- Model brushing all surfaces of the teeth
- Practice flossing from day one
- Brush your teeth together and be available to help
Your child will need some help brushing their teeth effectively until they’re around eight years old. When you brush and floss your teeth together regularly, your child will develop a positive attitude towards dental hygiene and a healthy smile!
Your Child’s First Dental Visit
Once you have a solid understanding of caring for your child’s teeth, the next step is scheduling their first dental appointment. Your child should visit the dentist for the first time when their first tooth erupts or by the time they are one year old. On your first visit to Accent Smile Center, we’ll make your child feel welcomed and as comfortable as possible. We understand that a first trip to the dentist can feel overwhelming for your child, so our team will provide a positive experience from start to finish.
After your child has a quick tour of the office, we’ll get started! Our dental hygienist will talk to them about what we’re doing every step of the way. We’ll brush their teeth and make sure everything is developmentally on track. This pain-free visit focuses on getting your child used to the dentist and cleaning their teeth.
Following their cleaning, Dr. Gatgens will closely examine your child’s teeth and discuss your questions or concerns. We’ll take as much time as you need to help you feel confident caring for your child’s smile. After your child’s first visit, they should have regular check-ups every six months or as recommended by your dentist.
A Balanced Diet is Essential for Healthy Baby Teeth
Giving your child a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for their baby teeth. Sugary foods contribute to tooth decay, so limiting the number of sugary foods your child eats is essential. Nearly all foods have at least a small amount of sugar, so be sure to brush your child’s teeth after every meal. If you can’t brush immediately, have them rinse their mouth with water to eliminate any leftover food particles.
Avoid harmful habits
Helping your child avoid harmful habits is essential for the health of their baby teeth. Here are the most common oral habits that we see in our Dickson office:
Nighttime bottle use
When a child goes to sleep with a bottle, their teeth are exposed to whatever liquid they’re drinking for extended periods.
Extended pacifier or thumb sucking
It’s common for children to suck their thumb or a pacifier for comfort, but if this habit persists for too long, it can cause damage to their permanent teeth. If your child uses a pacifier, give them a clean one every time. It is recommended to stop this habit by age three.
Build Healthy Oral Habits with Accent Smile Center
Even though your child will lose their baby teeth, taking care of them is crucial for the long-term health of their smile. At Accent Smile Center, we’ll help prepare you and your child for healthy oral habits from day one! If you’re ready to schedule your child’s first visit, we would love to meet you! Contact our Dickson office to schedule an appointment today.