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Child Dentistry

Small Smiles: What You Need to Know About Baby Teeth

It's only a matter of time before your child's first set of baby teeth appear in his or her mouth. Be aware of the importance of baby teeth and how to properly care for your child's mouth with the guidance provided in the following paragraphs.
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
You may be wondering why baby teeth are important because they will fall out of the mouth one day. Baby teeth play numerous roles in the mouth. They are required for eating, communicating, and smiling. Baby teeth aid in the preservation of jaw space for adult teeth. When your child reaches the age of six, he or she will lose their first baby tooth as adult teeth begin to emerge. If your child loses a baby tooth too soon, consult with your child's dentist about options for maintaining the proper space in the mouth for the adult tooth to emerge normally.
When Do I See Baby Teeth?
Around 6 months of age, the first baby teeth will break through the gums and into the mouth. These are usually the bottom front teeth. Around the age of three, the last baby teeth to appear in the mouth are in the upper jaw at the back of the mouth. Your child will most likely have 10 top teeth and 10 bottom teeth at this age.
How Do I Take Care of My Child's Teeth?
There are numerous things you can do to assist in the care of your child's baby teeth. Here's a list of things you can do to keep your child's mouth healthy.

To prevent cavities, brush twice a day (morning and night) with fluoride toothpaste. To keep the mouth clean for newborns, wipe the gums with a wet cloth or pad. For children under the age of three, use a grain of rice-sized amount of toothpaste. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children aged 3 and up. Brush your child's teeth for 2 minutes, or until you are confident that your child has thoroughly cleaned all sides of their teeth.

When you see two teeth that touch, clean between them on a daily basis. This aids in the removal of food from between the teeth and under the gums. Using floss on a daily basis also helps to prevent cavities from forming between teeth. As with brushing, assist your child in cleaning between their teeth until they are able to do so on their own.

Visit your child's dentist on a regular basis. Visit the dentist as soon as you notice your baby's first tooth – and no later than your child's first birthday. Your dentist can tell you if your child has plaque or cavities, when the next baby teeth will appear, and how to care for your child's teeth. In addition, some states require children to have a dental exam before beginning school or completing certain grade levels.

Maintain vigilance over your child's diet. What your child eats and drinks can cause tooth decay in their baby teeth. Some drinks, such as fruit juice and soda, contain a lot of sugar or acid. Sugary treats, such as cookies, should also be limited. Sugar and acid can weaken the outer shell (enamel) of teeth, increasing the likelihood of cavities.

Inquire with your child's dentist about sealants. A sealant is a special coating that is applied to your child's molar grooves and pits (back teeth). Sealants protect the biting surfaces of the teeth from cavities. Sealants may be applied to your child's back teeth if your dentist believes he or she is at high risk for cavities.

Inquire with your child's dentist about fluoride treatment. Fluoride is found in many public water sources and toothpastes, and it helps prevent cavities. Fluoride varnish may also be recommended by your dentist to provide additional cavity protection. Fluoride varnish application is quick and painless. To help prevent cavities, your dentist will use a small brush to paint the fluoride treatment (a sticky varnish) on the top and sides of your child's teeth.

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