Taking Care of Baby Teeth 101

For as many mysteries you may face as a parent, taking care of your child’s teeth shouldn’t be one of them. At Platinum Dental Care, we get a lot of questions about taking care of deciduous or “baby” teeth. Collaborating with resources provided by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), we have the answers to some of our FAQs below:

When Should I Schedule My Child’s First Dental Appointment?

Dental professionals and the AAPD agree that you should schedule your child’s first dental appointment no later than your child’s first birthday but not before your child’s first tooth appears.

For most children the perfect time for a first dental visit is between the ages of 6-12 months but if your child’s teeth show earlier than 6 months, we welcome them too! This appointment is both for you and your baby. Your dentist can show you how to best care for your children’s teeth, and an early check-up can pick up on any dental health problems early.
A parent checking a baby's teeth.

How Do I Choose the Right Dentist?

When looking for a dentist, it’s important to find the right kind. You should look for a pediatric dentist, or a family dentist who has experience working with kids. This will help your kids be more comfortable going to the dentist at an early age, making it easier to take them to regular appointments every 6 months.

What’s the Purpose of Baby Teeth?

Baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, fill a similar role to adult teeth. Chewing and talking are easier for children with teeth, and baby teeth prepare the way for adult teeth to form in your child’s jaw when the time comes.

Taking care of baby teeth is important because without them your child’s health would be significantly impacted. Adult teeth have a higher risk for tooth decay when their deciduous predecessors were also affected by cavities.

If Baby Teeth Fall Out Why Do I Need to Take Care of Them?

Taking care of baby teeth help your child form good, life-long dental habits. Your child’s permanent adult teeth can be impacted by bad oral habits and so can their systemic or overall health.

If you are struggling to stay motivated when it comes to taking care of your child’s teeth, think of brushing baby teeth as an investment in your child’s long-term oral health and systemic health. Plus, it prevents a lot of extensive and expensive treatments in the future.

What’s the Best Way to Clean Baby Teeth?

Soft bristled toothbrushes with small heads are the recommended tool for cleaning baby teeth. Toothpaste is unnecessary but, if desired, the recommended dose is a rice-grain size dollop.

Singing “Happy Birthday” twice through should indicate sufficient time to clean your child’s entire mouth of teeth once all of their baby teeth have come in. We recommend brushing your child’s teeth twice a day.
A mom brushing a baby's teeth.
As your children get older, it’s important to get your kids to brush their teeth themselves.You can use these four tricks to get them to brush their teeth.

What Causes Baby Teeth to Decay?

When sugar meets with bacteria in your child’s mouth, acid forms that will break down your child’s teeth. Everything children put in their mouths, from milk bottles to crackers contributes to the formation of this destructive acid.

Exposing your child to lots of sugar and carbohydrates like pretzels and chips or giving carb-heavy foods for long periods of time puts your child at risk for cavities. You can reduce that risk by:

  • Encouraging your children to drink water
  • Limiting snacking
  • Brushing their teeth frequently
  • Taking steps to avoid baby bottle tooth decay

Are Pacifiers Bad for Baby Teeth? How About Thumb-Sucking?

Sucking a pacifier or a thumb only becomes a problem when your child continues to rely on these soothers until the age of four. Orthodontic pacifiers (marked by the “orthodontic” label on their packaging) can help your child avoid shaping their palette around the shape of the pacifier.

Pacifiers are not considered a serious threat to the overall health of your child’s mouth, but it is important to stop thumb-sucking habits early to avoid further orthodontic issues. If you are struggling to get your child to ditch the pacifier or thumb past the age of 4, talk to your dentist about helpful strategies.

Don’t See a Question Answered Here?

If you have questions about your child’s oral health, talk to us about those concerns at your next appointment! We love helping children and their parents succeed at taking care of their baby teeth and look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

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