Many parents assume their little ones don’t need to see a dentist until their kids’ mouths are full of teeth or those first permanent teeth make a showing. The reality is those baby teeth should get the same care as the permanent teeth meant to last a lifetime.
A baby’s first visit to the dentist should happen within six months of getting that first tooth. Your dentist will check your baby’s mouth and give you lots of guidance.
It’s a good idea at this age to wipe the gums once a day with “Spiffies,” a soft gauze or a washcloth. It cleans the mouth and can help make teething a bit more comfortable. As soon as teeth emerge, brush twice a day to make sure plaque doesn’t have a chance to do damage.
The primary, or baby teeth, play an important role in lifetime dental health and should receive as much attention as the permanent teeth. Healthy primary teeth help the permanent teeth erupt in the proper order and can mitigate later crowding.
It may be a challenge, but the sooner baby can fall asleep without a bottle the better. Their mouths should be clean when they sleep. If they have a snack during the night, have them drink a bit of water to rinse out the mouth.
Visiting the dentist early sets up good habits for a lifetime. You want your children comfortable with the dentist. Taking them for regular check-ups ensures they have a good experience in the dental chair vs. memories of cavities and pain.
As baby grows up, be sure his dental routine keeps up. Let him play with those flossers with the holders, and he’ll see flossing as part of getting ready for bed.
By two years, switch to fluoridated toothpaste. Just use a pea size dab so even if baby isn’t quite spitting yet, he won’t swallow too much. Once your little one is able to spit with some accuracy, have him use a .05% fluoride rinse.
Diet is as important for the teeth as for the rest of their growing bodies. Most of us put a limit on candy and sugary drinks (including juice), but did you know the timing of the treats throughout the day matters? If you give your little ones sugary foods or drinks, do it just once or twice a day vs. giving small “treats” throughout.
Give your kids water in their sippy cups and have juice at meals. The less often teeth are exposed to sugars, the better.
It doesn’t take that much extra work to keep your kids’ teeth healthy. The right care at home can help you avoid costly and scary trips to the dentist. In the end, nothing compares to your baby’s bright, healthy smile!
Dr. Kangarloo’s website features educational articles and videos.
“Like” Gentle touch dentistry on Facebook
To celebrate Children’s Dental Health Month (February), check out the ADA’s site.
For the kid who doesn’t like to brush….
Dr. Ramineh Kangarloo runs a family friendly dental practice in Falls Church, VA. As a mom, she knows the challenge of keeping kids healthy. Her goal is to help her patients have healthy smiles for life! You can reach her at 703-933-1121 or [email protected].