Your child’s oral health care begins earlier than you may think. Maintaining their gums immediately after birth is essential, even though you likely won’t see their first tooth until six months. As a parent, you’ll have to take an active role in your child’s dental hygiene, but our dentists at West 85th Dental can help.
Dentists and hygienists can professionally clean your child’s teeth and teach them how to brush and floss correctly while monitoring the growth of their primary and adult teeth.
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
Your child’s primary teeth, or baby teeth, begin to break through the gums gradually, with most appearing by age 3. Even though these teeth are temporary and will fall out to make space for their permanent teeth, caring for baby teeth are essential for your child’s health.
Baby teeth set the stage for life-long oral health. They help your child chew, speak, smile, and set the proper spacing for adult teeth to emerge. Starting positive oral health habits with primary teeth can solidify the routine when your child’s permanent teeth arrive.
Tips for Healthy Teeth in Children
Healthy teeth start at the gums, and proper care of your child’s gums begins immediately. As your child’s teeth come in, you’ll need to alter their oral hygiene routine to protect their mouth from tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
From Birth to 12 Months
For the first 12 months, as the first tooth breaks through the gums, your teething baby has different oral health needs than older children.
- Wipe your infant’s gums with a soft, damp cloth after feeding
- Brush emerging baby teeth with a soft toothbrush, and if they’re over six months, use a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
- Avoid juice and encourage drinking water
- Don’t put a bottle’s nipple or soother in your mouth before your child’s, or share utensils, to prevent bacteria transfer.
Your child should have their first dental exam by their first birthday to help identify early problems and ensure teeth are growing correctly.
Pre-School Aged Children
As your child enters toddler and pre-school years, you’ll have to do and teach oral health habits simultaneously. You may have a child who adapts to an oral health care routine easily or may be uncooperative, but your child will begin to anticipate their morning and bedtime oral health routine.
- Brush for 2 minutes and to pass the time, play your child’s favourite song, sing, and make it fun.
- Ensure your child is spitting out the toothpaste, not swallowing
- Floss your child’s teeth as more of their primary teeth grow
Until they become independent in their routine, maintain supervision to ensure they’re brushing correctly. You can even brush with them, so your child can learn by watching and doing.
What to Expect During Your Child’s Dentist Visits
Once your child gets their first tooth, you should visit the dentist. As a parent, your child’s dentist can be a resource for discussing their diet and oral hygiene habits from a young age.
During your child’s dental exam, we’ll monitor their teeth for signs of tooth decay, which can lead to cavities. Children can develop tooth decay from carbohydrates, such as:
- Sugary foods, soda, or juice
These foods produce acids in your saliva, creating plaque, which can stick to the teeth and wear down the enamel.
Your child is born with primary teeth already situated in the jaw. X-rays can help your dentist assess the placement of your child’s teeth and detect any potential crowding issues as their teeth grow. Our dental team may also take X-rays during your child’s dentist appointment.
Removing Plaque & Tarter
Your child’s hygienist will remove tartar and plaque buildup to prevent cavities and protect the enamel. Cavities are common but preventable, and our dental team will help teach your child good oral health habits to avoid future dental fillings.
Your child should use fluoridated toothpaste as they brush to protect against tooth decay. Depending on your child’s age and unique dental health needs, we may recommend a particular fluoride concentration. For instance, younger children tend only to need low-fluoride toothpaste.
At your child’s dental appointment, your hygienist will apply fluoride varnish to the surface of their teeth. Fluoride helps strengthen enamel by forming a protective barrier that shields the teeth from acids in their saliva to stop the buildup of harmful plaque.
Schedule Your Child’s Dental Exam in Calgary
The dentist can be a nerve-wracking and scary place for kids, so at West 85th Dental, our team does our best to make the experience fun and interactive to keep your child comfortable. Whether your child needs their first-ever dental appointment or is due for their next cleaning, book an appointment for the whole family for healthy, happy, and shining smiles.