Infant Tooth Care
The baby teeth may fall out, but taking care of them is essential. Not only are the baby teeth important for enabling your child to bite and chew food, but they also foster proper speech development. The baby teeth also play an integral role in the proper development and emergence of the adult teeth. At Neu Family Dental, we can help you to properly care for the teeth of your child, which will help them to maintain a beautiful, healthy smile into their adult years.
The Importance of Infant Tooth Care
You may be wondering why, if the baby teeth are only going to fall out, they need to be properly cared for. While it is true that the baby teeth begin falling out around the age of 6, they are still important. Not only are they essential for chewing, but they also help your child to develop proper speech. They also aid in the development and proper eruption of the adult teeth. Premature loss of a baby tooth can affect how the adult teeth erupt, leading to overcrowding or other alignment issues. By helping your child to take care of their baby teeth, you help to not only prevent cavities, but you also help to foster the development of their adult teeth as well.
Oral Care Before Tooth Eruption
Oral care begins well before the eruption of the first baby teeth. When your child is just a few weeks old, you can begin wiping their gums gently with a damp washcloth after every feeding. This will help to eliminate lingering sugars from breastmilk or formula, as well as harmful oral bacteria.
Brushing and Flossing
Once the baby teeth begin to erupt, with the first coming in on average between 4 to 7 months, you can switch from the washcloth to an infant toothbrush. For children under the age of 3, use a rice-sized amount of fluoride-free toothpaste and gently brush their teeth twice a day. At the age of 3, you can switch to a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste, but it is important that your child understand that they need to spit the toothpaste out. You can work with them on this skill before they start using fluoridated toothpaste as well. Work with your child and help them to brush all surfaces of their teeth. Many children may need to have their teeth gone over a second time by their parent after they have attempted to brush their teeth. By the age of 6, children can generally begin to brush their teeth on their own, but they should still be monitored from a distance.
Flossing is another important part of oral care for your child and should be done at least once a day. You can begin working with your child to teach them proper flossing when the baby teeth begin to fit closer together. This usually occurs between the ages of 2 and 6. While you can use regular floss, many children find specialized floss picks, specifically designed for children, to be easier to manage until their manual dexterity improves.
Professional Oral Care
Along with care at home, regular dental cleanings and exams are also essential components of oral care for your child. Generally, your child should be seen about six months after the eruption of their first baby tooth or by their first birthday, whichever one comes first. While the first few visits are designed to get your child used to our office, we eventually begin cleaning and examining their teeth, aiding in the prevention of cavities and gum disease, and the early detection of oral health issues. We can also provide the baby teeth with fluoride treatments and sealants as additional preventative measures to keep their baby teeth strong and healthy.
With proper oral care in the early years, you can help to set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health and a beautiful smile. For more information, call Neu Family Dental today at (847) 230-9143.