FAQs Parents Have About Baby Teeth and Dental Health
As a parent, your life is full of questions. You’re naturally concerned about every aspect of your child’s development, from the time they crawl to the day they graduate high school, and beyond. This means you’re also paying close attention to their dental health.
As a baby grows, their teeth and gums will go through many changes, and it’s smart to be as prepared as possible! From caring for baby teeth and brushing protocols to managing cavities and permanent teeth, we’re here to answer a few of your most common pediatric dental health questions!
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
They’re just going to fall out anyway, so it might be confusing when your child’s pediatric dentist is actually very interested in how their tiny teeth are coming in!
While every child is different, most will develop their first baby tooth between six months and one year. These teeth are important to your child’s dental health as they serve as placeholders for their permanent teeth, which will come in later. If they develop decay, they could fall out before they’re ready, which could affect your child’s appearance, as well as their ability to speak and eat properly.
Taking great care of their baby teeth can help ensure that your little one’s smile stays healthy and bright for life!
How Should I Brush Baby Teeth?
Those pint-sized toothbrushes can be pretty intimidating, especially for first-time parents. Thankfully, taking care of your baby’s teeth is simple.
For infants, you can start by just using a damp, soft-bristled child’s toothbrush. If the child is over two, you can add a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice).
Gently brush each tooth in a circular motion, starting at their gum line and working your way up the sides of the teeth. When you reach top, flat surfaces of the teeth, switch to a gentle back-and-forth brushing motion.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay and How Can I Prevent It?
Baby bottle tooth decay is a condition that affects both infants and young children. It occurs when their teeth are exposed to liquids sweetened with high amounts of sugar for long periods of time. Liquids that contain natural sugars (such as baby formula and fruit juice) can also cause this type of decay.
When these sugars remain in your child’s mouth, the bacteria on their teeth and gums thrive, creating acids that can stick to their teeth. This can result in toothaches, infection, and in some cases, extraction.
To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, try to fill your baby’s bottle with water when there’s a chance that you might not be able to brush their teeth immediately after a feeding. For instance, this is a good practice at night or naptime. Then, after each feeding, be sure to wipe their teeth and gums with a soft cloth to remove any residue.
Once their baby teeth come in, you can gently brush and floss between their teeth to keep them clean and boost their dental health!
When Should I Schedule My Child’s First Dental Visit?
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends bringing your child in for their first dental visit by the time they turn one year old, or as soon as their first tooth appears (whichever comes first).
At this visit, you can introduce your child to the dentist and ask any questions you might have. Then, the dental hygienist and dentist will examine your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth. As they do, they’ll check to see if there are any oral habits, such as thumb sucking, that need to be evaluated and addressed.
Visiting the dentist at an early age is a great way to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy dental habits!
Do All Children Get Cavities?
Cavities will form when dental plaque builds up on a tooth, eating away at its enamel until it creates a hole. They can occur in children as well as adults. Plaque is the sticky substance that forms when the bacteria in your mouth combine with food, acid, and saliva.
Though many children do get cavities, excellent oral care and diet makes it much more likely that yours won’t. To keep cavities at bay, encourage your child to brush for at least two minutes, twice a day, as well as to floss once a day. Doing so can help clear away any lingering bacteria and keep their mouth cavity-free. If this becomes a challenge, try turning on one of these fun toothbrushing songs and make it a party!
Is Fluoride Safe?
Did your dentist recommend a fluoride treatment for your child? If so, rest assured that it is perfectly safe. While it is smart to limit the amount of fluoride toothpaste that your little one consumes, topical fluoride is actually very effective at protecting their smile!
For this treatment, your dentist or dental hygienist will apply a concentrated dose of fluoride directly onto your child’s teeth. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can protect tooth enamel against decay.
What Should I Do If My Child Has a Toothache?
If your child is complaining of a toothache, first try to gently brush or floss around the affected area. Sometimes, food can get stuck in between their teeth and cause pain.
If this doesn’t solve the problem, then it’s best to call your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If any of the following occur alongside a toothache, then your dentist may recommend emergency dental care:
- Pain when opening the mouth
The above symptoms could be a sign of a dental infection, which could spread if left untreated. Seeking immediate treatment can help your child feel better quicker.
What Are Sealants And Should My Child Get Them?
Sealants are clear, plastic coatings that your dentist can apply to your child’s molars. They are a safe, effective treatment used to prevent tooth decay.
Sealants are offered in early childhood, when your child’s teeth are most susceptible to developing cavities. If your dentist recommends them, it’s best to apply them as soon as their permanent molars develop, which usually occurs between the ages of six and 14.
While brushing and flossing are excellent preventative measures, it can be difficult for your child (or you) to reach every part of their back teeth. The sealant creates a thin layer on their tooth enamel, shielding it from harmful sugars and starches. It gets its name because it essentially works to “seal out” these intruders!
When applying sealants, your dentist will carefully clean each tooth, and then brush the solution on. The sealants begin as a liquid but quickly harden on your child’s teeth thanks to a built-in hardening agent.
Find More Answers to Your Dental Health Questions
At Tomasik, we’re dedicated to providing top-tier dental services for everyone in your family. This means we also want to see your littlest family members at our dentist on Bee Cave Road! We understand your concerns about your child’s dental health, and we’re here to provide the professional guidance and support you need.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have, and talk to you about more ways to keep cavities and tooth decay away. If you’d like to learn more about the services that we offer or you’re ready to schedule an appointment, feel free to contact us!