One of the lesson our staff at Must Love Kids tries to impart to parents during visits to our dentistry for children in Vancouver, WA is the need to start dental care at a young age. A child’s baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay immediately after they first emerge – which typically occurs around 6 months. When infants develop tooth decay, the condition is commonly referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. This condition most frequently impacts the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also suffer the effects of decay. In rare instances, infants and toddlers suffer from such severe decay that their teeth must be removed.
Fortunately, tooth decay is easily preventable. The majority of kids that visit our dentistry for children in Vancouver, WA have a full set of 20 baby – or primary – teeth by the age of 3. As your child gets older, his or her jaw grows and expands to make room for the development of permanent teeth.
Baby Teeth Eruption Chart
Cleaning Your Child’s Teeth
Preventing tooth decay in baby teeth plays an important role in a child’s oral health development. Baby teeth act as space-holders, holding the place for and working to guide permanent teeth into the proper position. When a child loses his or her baby teeth at too young an age, permanent teeth can develop crooked, crowded or misaligned. This could require expensive orthodontic treatment or possibly surgery to correct.
The best way for parents to protect their kids’ oral health is by practicing regular oral hygiene from a young age. Here are a few tips parents can follow to help protect their child’s oral health development:
- Begin gently cleaning your baby’s mouth starting a few days after birth by wiping the gums using a clean, moist washcloth or gauze pad. Decay can start to occur immediately after teeth first emerge from the gum line. A child’s front teeth typically begin to emerge at about 6 months, however, some kids don’t actually start teething until 12 or 14 months.
- For kids under the age of 3, parents and caregivers should begin brushing their teeth immediately after they start to emerge. Make sure to use both a child-sized toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste – about the size of a grain of rice – containing fluoride. Brush the child’s teeth twice a day – once in the morning and again at night – or as directed by Dr. Prashant.
- For kids between the ages of 3 to 6, use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Brush the child’s teeth at least twice a day or as directed. Make sure to remind your child not to swallow the toothpaste as you brush.
- Continue brushing your child’s teeth until you feel comfortable with him or her brushing. Most younger children don’t possess the manual dexterity or attention to detail needed to properly brush. As a general rule, kids develop the dexterity to brush at about the same time they learn to tie their own shoes. Once you feel your child has the physical and mental maturity to handle the habit, make sure to teach proper brushing technique and to supervise your child while brushing.
A little extra prevention can go a long way to protecting the long-term development of any child’s oral health. By practicing quality oral hygiene with your child from a young age, you can help to prevent the development of tooth decay and gum disease.
If you have any questions about the best practices for protecting your child’s oral health, feel free to ask any member of our team at Must Love Kids during your next appointment.