Many parents tend to underestimate gum disease at an early age in children. This is because they know that their child will get their adult teeth in a few years. However, healthy baby teeth are essential for healthy adult teeth, which is why we recommend teaching your children about proper oral hygiene from an early age.
The Importance of Baby Teeth at An Early Age
Baby teeth are present in the gum before birth and start to emerge between six and 10 months of age. The last of the baby teeth erupt from the gums between two and three years of age. These teeth are vitally important for chewing and speaking. They also provide the path for the adult teeth.
When good pediatric oral hygiene isn’t maintained, it can lead to the need for tooth extractions. When this happens, the other teeth may shift in the mouth. This can cause the adult teeth to emerge crooked, crowded, or gapped, and can eventually lead to braces later on. Thankfully, the need for braces and teeth extractions can be reduced with good oral hygiene starting at an early age.
Helping Your Child Prevent Gum Disease
Good oral hygiene starts directly after birth with the parents wiping down their new baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth or piece of gauze after every bottle feeding. This is to prevent bacteria buildup in the mouth. When the first teeth start to appear, they must also be wiped down or cleaned with a soft-bristled baby toothbrush. When the child has two teeth next to each other, it’s time to start gently flossing between them. If you are not sure what types of products to use to clean your baby’s gums and teeth, Dr. Lindsay can make recommendations.
Once teeth are in the mouth, parents should start brushing and flossing their child’s teeth at least twice a day. Begin by letting them hold the handle and try to brush their own. This lets them feel the movement of the toothbrush. Remember to always brush with them as well. Giving your child water to swish and spit is not recommended, as they may drink it instead of spit it out. As the child gets older, they will be able to start brushing their own teeth. By the age of six, they should have the dexterity to brush their own teeth and spit out excess toothpaste.
Supervising Your Children’s Brushing
Children will need close supervision while brushing their teeth until about the age of eight or nine. Children under the age of three should use less than a grain of rice size of fluoridated toothpaste. From ages three to five, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride should be used. Parents can make brushing more fun by letting their child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Many children’s toothpaste comes in different flavors, like cherry, berry, and grape. Some electric children’s toothbrushes play music for two or three minutes, which can encourage your child to brush their teeth for the recommended amount of time.
Teeth Cleanings and Oral Health Checkups by Our Pediatric Dentist
It’s also a good idea to schedule regular dental checkups and teeth cleanings in order to ensure your child’s teeth and jaw are developing correctly. We recommend that all children have their first pediatric dental visit by the age of one, and yearly visits thereafter. Children who are at a higher risk of cavities and gum disease may need to be seen more often.
Around the age of seven, pediatric dentists will start evaluating your child’s teeth to determine whether or not braces will be needed in the future. If it looks like your child’s jaw may be too small to fit all the adult teeth or if your child is developing an under or overbite, we may recommend early intervention. This is done through orthodontic appliances, which can reduce or eliminate the need for braces as a teenager. Take care of your child’s oral health by scheduling a dental check-up and teeth cleaning with us at Vedra Pediatric Dentistry!