Baby teeth are more important than you may realize.
When you have a baby, it’s natural to soak up all of the information, advice, and recommendations you can get! From bottles and diapers to sleep schedules and eating habits, there is a ton to learn. Unfortunately, not everyone is an expert on these subjects, and misinformation can easily spread. This is especially the case when it comes to your child’s dental health.
Today, we’re taking a look at 7 common myths you might have heard about baby teeth and gums. Then, we’ll dispel those inaccuracies and deliver the factual information you need to make an informed decision.
Myth 1: Only permanent teeth matter.
Yes, your baby’s precious first teeth will eventually fall out, but they play a far more important role than simply acting as a photo-op in those darling newborn photos.
Baby teeth help children eat properly, which provides them with proper nutrition. They also contribute to their facial structure and act as critical placeholders for future adult teeth. In addition, they aid in early speech development, helping your child pronounce sounds, like “l,” “th,” and “sh.” Ignoring these teeth could mean losing them early to premature decay. If this happens, it can have long-term consequences, even affecting the way their permanent teeth grow in.
So go ahead and brush that one little straggler that just poked out! Even the tiniest teeth need attention and care.
Myth 2: Severe teething symptoms are normal.
No, teething isn’t the most fun process in the world. It will make your baby a little uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t expect them to experience a high fever, rash, diarrhea, or any other severe physical reactions.
In fact, most symptoms should be mild, including:
- Gum irritation
- Excessive drooling
- Fussiness and irritability
While your child might experience a slight rise in their body temperature during teething, researchers have revealed that it’s unlikely to be high enough to be categorized as a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher). If it creeps above 101 degrees, it’s best to call your pediatrician.
Myth 3: Brushing baby teeth once daily is fine.
They might be tiny, but those baby teeth still need a twice-daily brushing. Limiting brushing to once per day can allow excess plaque to build up on the surface of their tooth enamel, which can lead to decay. Using a small amount of toothpaste, place a soft-bristled toothbrush on their gumline and brush in gentle, soft circles. Be sure to clean the front and back of every tooth.
Myth 4: Fluoride toothpaste is a no-go.
Kids put everything they can into their mouths, right? So it’s understandable to think you should keep the fluoride toothpaste on lockdown until they’re older. Years ago, delaying fluoride was a common approach. The reasoning was that too much fluoride could add white spots or rough surfaces to a child’s teeth. Moreover, young children are more likely to swallow toothpaste than spit it out.
However, experts now agree the benefits of fluoride are too plentiful to restrict. Fluoride plays an important role in strengthening your child’s teeth. It also protects them from cavities and decreases their risk of tooth decay. The key is to use it in moderation. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth. Keep the dollop around the size of a grain of rice to minimize the amount they might swallow.
Myth 5: Dental care doesn’t start until the first tooth emerges.
Did you know that all 20 of your child’s primary teeth are already in their jaw when they’re born? They’re waiting just underneath their gums, and they’re too important to ignore. Even before your child cuts their first tooth, it’s important to establish healthy dental habits!
As early as possible, start cleaning their mouth and gums using a clean, damp washcloth. While they might not have that coveted first tooth until they’re a few months old, it’s never too early to start practicing this routine. We also recommend bringing them in for their first dentist visit by their first birthday, or no more than six months after their first tooth erupts!
Myth 6: All teethers are safe.
Your baby’s teething stage will begin between the ages of six months and a year old and can last until they’re at least three years of age. By then, most children will have a fully-erupted set of 20 primary teeth.
As mentioned, this process can be uncomfortable, and you understandably want to do anything you can to soothe your child’s pain, but it’s important to do your research when it comes to items commonly marketed in the stores as “teethers.” From chewable jewelry to homeopathic solutions, such as teething tablets, many of these are not backed by the ADA and can pose a health and safety risk to your child. The same applies to any numbing gels that contain benzocaine, which should not be used on children younger than two.
For the best and safest route, gently rub your baby’s inflamed gums with your clean finger. You can also use a small, cool (not cold) rubber spoon or a clean, moist gauze pad. The ADA also allows clean teething rings as soothing options for fussy teethers.
Myth 7: A knocked-out baby tooth isn’t a big deal.
“It’s only a baby tooth! They’re bound to lose them anyway.” This is a common mindset among parents when their child accidentally loses a primary tooth too early. However, remember what we said about the important roles these teeth play? That’s why it’s best to act quickly when a knockout occurs.
Start by finding the tooth. While baby teeth are generally not re-implanted, you need to make sure it’s not still in your child’s mouth, where it could pose a choking risk. Apply pressure to the site using moist gauze or a clean washcloth. Then, contact your dentist to make an appointment as soon as possible.
A Pediatric Dental Team You Can Trust
Whether you’re researching the ins and outs of caring for baby teeth or you need advice on orthodontics for your teen, it pays to have a local dental team you can trust. There’s already enough confusion out there, and you should feel confident that the advice you receive is sound.
At Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry, we’re dedicated to helping you navigate every important stage of your child’s dental health. Contact us today to make an appointment or learn more about the services we provide.