Parents are often not well informed about the importance of pediatric dentistry. At birth, a baby already has adult teeth in their jaw. Gum care matters even before any teeth appear in your baby’s mouth. Baby teeth typically begin to come in when a child is between six months and one year of age. Between the ages of two and three, a child has all twenty baby teeth. The front teeth fall out usually around six or seven years of age. The back teeth, since they are essential for chewing, do not typically fall out until the age of ten or twelve. To learn more about pediatric dentistry and how best to care for your child’s teeth, reach out to Zeal Dentistry today at 415.792.4771.
Why Caring For Baby Teeth Matters
Baby teeth are placeholders for when the adult teeth will come in. Baby teeth must be well cared for and maintained in an ideal way so that adult teeth come in as desired. Baby teeth do a lot more than we think they do. Notably, baby teeth are partly responsible for the shape of a child’s face as they grow. Other ways baby teeth are significant include:
- They affect how a child speaks
- They make it easier to chew
- If baby teeth decay, they not only cause pain but can also lead to infection
- Improper care of baby teeth can result in costly care that is preventable
- Improper care of baby teeth can result in damage to adult teeth
How to Clean a Baby’s Mouth
It’s a good idea to clean a baby’s mouth at least once a day with a clean gauze pad or soft cloth. It’s wise to make this a regular habit so your child’s gums remain in good condition for when baby teeth come in.
It is not necessary to use toothpaste for cleaning a baby’s mouth and teeth. If you choose to do so, only use the amount of toothpaste equal to the size of a small pea.
By the age of eleven, children are generally expected to be able to care for their own teeth on their own. Until then, parents should expect to either be caring directly for their child’s teeth or monitoring their children as they practice dental hygiene care and techniques.
How to Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay can occur when your baby is allowed to use either the bottle or breast as a pacifier. If a baby goes to sleep with a sweetened liquid in his mouth, acid is formed, and that breaks down the tooth enamel surprisingly fast. There are many ways to prevent this from happening. These include:
- Avoid bedtime feedings
- Avoid nap time feedings
- Avoid long feedings
- Avoid overly frequent feedings
- Clean off a child’s mouth and teeth after feedings
- Do not put a child to bed with a bottle
- Have a child sip a small amount of water at the end of a feeding
- Use a bottle only for feed and never as a pacifier
The Joy of Teething
As teeth begin to appear in a child’s mouth, there is inevitably some discomfort. The baby’s gums become sore, and this can cause crankiness. A way to ease the teething process is by gently rubbing the area around where a baby’s teeth are coming in. At times, it can be helpful to let the child have a clean and cold item to gently chew on. One method is to give a child a teething ring that has been kept in the refrigerator to cool off.
Teething does not mean a child is sick. The process is simply uncomfortable. If a child appears to be suffering from unusual symptoms, they may be unrelated to the teething process. In this case, calling a doctor to be certain is a good idea.
Thumbs and Pacifiers
Babys have a natural instinct to suck. The act of sucking does not cause the baby harm. Thumb-sucking does not typically cause any damage to baby teeth, and neither does a conventional pacifier. An exception is if these behaviors extend beyond five years of age. After the age of five, habits involving an oral fixation can affect permanent teeth as they begin to come in.
First Dental Visits
Children should have their first visit to the dentist before the age of two. Regular checkups are encouraged to make sure a child’s teeth are developing without any unusual complications. Contact us about the following dental services:
- Pediatric dentistry
- Family dentistry
- Cavity filling
At Zeal Dentistry, we’re happy to help you navigate the early years of pediatric dentistry. Reach out to us today at 415.792.4771 for more information about how we can help your child maintain a bright smile.