Why baby teeth matter?
As parents, you love to see the first appearance of your child’s first baby teeth. Seeing the first pearly white erupt out of the gums makes you so excited. Witnessing the early milestones of your children’s development makes you confident that he or she is going to be a normal and healthy kid.
When babies are born, their teeth are not visible on the mouth yet. This is because, the whole tooth structure is not yet well-developed but, they are already there. After six or seven months, the first tooth would start to erupt. Usually, the two lower front teeth are the first to show. This can vary; for some babies, this takes place earlier like four to five months, others, this happens around eight or nine months. Also very rare, but some babies are actually born with teeth. The variation on dental development depends on genetics and gender. For example, girls teeth may erupt faster than boys teeth.
By the time your child reaches age three, he should have completed the whole set of 20 primary teeth. From then, the jaw continues to grow in order to make room for the eruption of permanent teeth. You also call this as baby teeth or milk teeth. At age 6, the first permanent molars will start to come in.
When is the right time to start dental care?
Dental care should start after the baby has his first feeding or a couple of days after he or she is born. Parents should clean the baby’s mouth after each feeding. This is done by wiping the tongue, gums and mucosa with damp gauze cloth to keep the milk from sticking on the inner walls of the mouth. As your baby grows and his first teeth erupt, you need to brush his teeth with a soft toothbrush; do not use toothpaste.
Never give your baby a bottle of milk or any kind of juices before putting him to bed, if you do, make sure you brush his teeth. If your child drinks anything other than water and fall asleep, the sugar in those drinks will cause cavities. At around 12-18 months of age, you can take your child to their first dentist visit and after that, every 6 months for a dental checkup and cleaning. The reason is, first the dentist can detect any early signs of decay or cavities as well as any abnormalities and second, your children will get used to going to the dentist and will prevent anxiety. At age 3, you can start flossing their teeth and if he or she is able to spit out and rinse, then you can also use a very small amount of toothpaste (the size of the tip of a match).
As your child gets older, You should teach him the importance of tooth brushing and flossing. He should also see his dentist regularly (twice a year) to have his teeth properly monitored.
Why is it important to take care of baby teeth?
There are a lot of reasons why you should have proper care for the baby teeth.
- First, healthy baby teeth can give confidence to your children. Of course, as young as 2-years-old, your child is already conscious of the way he or she looks. Constant joking about his decayed teeth will cause him low self esteem. This feeling of shame might continue until he reaches adulthood.
- Second, decayed teeth will affect the permanent teeth. Also rampant caries, left untreated can lead to a more serious health problem such as cardiac disease and brain infection. Although cases like these are rare, they are still occurring. Your child should be kept away from health dangers such as these.
- Third, your child needs to have a good oral health to be able to have a good nutrition. When he has cavities or infection, he will have difficulty eating. This situation will lessen his appetite which is detrimental to the nutritional demands of his growing body.
- Fourth, primary teeth are useful in speech development. Your children deserve to learn how to speak correctly. A healthy set of teeth will help him produce the correct sounds that correspond to the consonants.
- Fifth, baby teeth are a guide for the incoming permanent teeth. Decayed primary teeth that need to be extracted, will leave an empty space. When there is an empty space, other teeth start to shift position and move into that space. Once this happens, then there is not enough room for the permanent teeth to erupt in their correct position and will erupt out of place and be crooked.
Good oral care must be practiced right after the baby has his first feeding. The mouth should be cleaned from milk deposits to maintain healthy gums. Dental hygiene must be taught as soon as the teeth start to erupt. Proper dental care even to baby teeth will make our children’s permanent teeth healthier and stronger because each one of the baby teeth are important in the dental and physical health of your child for the rest of his life. Healthier gums, stronger teeth are achieved with good dental care especially in early childhood dental development.
By Ladan Zinati