It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month! Here are some facts about children’s teeth and tips for childhood tooth care:
Baby teeth are important: Just because children lose their baby teeth, it does not mean “decay is okay.” Children need to have healthy, strong baby teeth to eat, speak, and smile.
Babies are born with their baby teeth already formed under the gums. This means that baby tooth care needs to start in infancy, before the teeth appear in the mouth! A baby’s gums should be gently wiped with a soft, damp cloth after drinking a bottle or eating. This gets baby used to his or her mouth being cleaned. As soon as the first little tooth appears, it can be brushed with a soft toothbrush using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste.
Gum pain gels are not necessary andcan cause a rare but life-threatening condition called methemoglobinemia. It is better to let baby chew on a cold cloth or spoon if “teething.” This should relieve baby’s discomfort.
Always use a separate spoon to test baby’s food. Caregivers and parents spread their own mouth’s germs this way. This is especially important if a caregiver has cavities or gum problems.
Never put baby to bed with a bottle with formula, milk or juice. Don’t let a toddler walk around with a sippy cup with formula, milk or juice. These drinks are for meals. The sugar in them can destroy baby teeth pretty quickly. Children should only drink water between meals.
Lift the lip to check baby’s teeth at least once a month. White spots or lines near the gums may be the start of cavities. Baby teeth should be smooth and all one color. White, brown or black spots indicates cavities. If the teeth are being wiped or brushed daily, this should not happen.
Children start to lose their front teeth at about 6-7 years of age, so those front permanent teeth coming in are obvious. Not so obvious are the first permanent molars that erupt in the back of the mouth around the same age. If daily brushing and flossing aren’t already being done, that can hurt those teeth!
Flossing, too? Yes. While baby teeth usually have space between them that the tooth brush can reach, sometimes they don’t.
As soon as “teeth touch” they should be flossed to remove plaque germs that grow in between the teeth.
Baby teeth fall out over time and kids still have some of them until they are 12-13 years old. Baby teeth hold the space for the permanent teeth coming in.
Cavities are the NUMBER ONE chronic disease in children, more common than asthma. A cavity is a bacterial infection in a tooth!
Dental pain affects a child’s ability to learn and thrive. Dental emergencies cost parents and kids thousands of lost school and work hours. (Emergency room visits for dental issues cost Americans over $1.5 billion dollars in 2012!)
The cost of an amalgam (metal) filling can be well over $100 dollars - depending on how much of the tooth surface is affected, it can be much more. Composite (white) fillings cost even more. If a tooth needs to be “capped” it can run into thousands of dollars! Compare that to the cost of a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.
Dental decay is preventable! Unless there is an underlying medical condition, cavities are caused by not brushing and flossing and eating or drinking sugar too often. A well-balanced diet helps the mouth and the body to stay healthy!
Preventing childhood cavities is so important and easy to do but young children need a hand. Pediatricians and dentists recommend the first dental visit by age one and that children up until age nine should have help and supervision while brushing.
|Brush Morning & Night chart - ym 2017|
This information is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition. If you think you or a loved one needs medical or dental treatment, please see a doctor or dentist right away!
Sources: ADA.org, APA.org, ncohf.org