The Importance of Taking Care of Baby Teeth

Why is taking care of baby teeth important? They’re just going to be replaced, right? Well, yes, but here’s why you need to take just as much care of baby teeth as permanent ones, and what you can do to ensure your child’s oral health.

Baby teeth are delicate

If baby teeth look less tough than permanent teeth, that’s because they are more fragile. The enamel coating is much thinner on baby teeth, making the teeth more prone to cavities and decay.

Sugar impacts baby teeth

Sugar makes juice, chocolate milk, and sodas even more harmful to baby teeth than they are to permanent teeth because there’s less enamel to protect baby teeth from decaying. The same goes for cakes, candy and other sweet treats. The sugar in these beverages and desserts can wreak havoc on your child’s teeth. Decay-causing bacteria thrives on sugar and produces acid. That acid destroys tooth enamel.

Sharing saliva can cause cavities in baby teeth

Many studies document that bacteria in saliva can move from one person to another — think parent to baby — from sharing cups and utensils and even blowing on food. Some parents are shocked when they take their 2-year-olds to a dental appointment to find that the baby already has cavities.

Poor oral hygiene for baby teeth can lead to crooked permanent teeth

If a baby tooth has to be extracted because of decay, the empty space it creates can cause permanent teeth to come in misaligned and crooked. Baby teeth provide the foundation for how the permanent teeth will emerge.

What can you do to prevent decay in baby teeth? Here are some tips to keep your child’s baby teeth in tip-top shape.

Finish bottles before bedtime

Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle. You don’t want your baby’s teeth constantly exposed to bacteria. Remember that those baby teeth help your child to chew and talk — they’re important!

Don’t put juice in baby bottles

Reserve bottles for formula, breast milk, or water. Keep juice out of them, as your baby will want to continue to suck on the nipple if there’s a sugary beverage in the bottle.

Clean your infant’s gums; brush your baby’s teeth

Use a soft washcloth or gauze pad to wipe your new baby’s gums gently. You can buy soft rubber devices that help clean any excess food from your baby’s gums.

When teeth start sprouting, usually at about 6 months, tooth decay can start. You should brush your baby’s teeth very gently with a child’s toothbrush and a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste until about age 3, and then increase the amount of toothpaste to the size of a small pea.

When your child begins to use the toothbrush, sing songs and make a fun game out of brushing — you can brush your teeth at the same time. Place brushing their teeth on a chart of “things we do every day” where your child can see it and talk about what gets done each day.

Supervise your child’s brushing

Supervise your child’s brushing until you know they’re doing it correctly on their own and not swallowing the toothpaste! Many children can do this by age 6 or 7.

Limit juices and sugary treats

Limit the amount of juice your child drinks. Once children are introduced to juice, of course, they love it — it’s sweet! From ages 1 to 6, limit juice to 4-6 ounces a day. From ages 7-18, limit it to 8-12 ounces a day. For older children, that includes soda! Make cakes and candy an occasional treat — not an everyday experience.

Schedule regular dental exams

When your baby gets that first tooth or reaches their first birthday, you should schedule their first visit to the dentist.

Soft Touch Dentistry is ready to be your partner in keeping your child’s baby teeth healthy. Call or book an appointment online today to ensure your child’s oral health.

 

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