First-time parents might not realize how important their child’s first teeth are. After all, aren’t baby teeth supposed to fall out? But the truth is that these temporary pearly whites are just as important to your little one’s oral health as the permanent ones they’ll get later. Here’s why your child needs to start seeing the family dentist as soon as the first tooth appears.
What are Baby Teeth?
Baby teeth are also called primary teeth, and they’re already in your child’s jaws when they’re born. They’ll usually start erupting at 6 months old, and all 20 should have appeared by the age of 3. Most of the time the front teeth come in first, although every child is different.
The permanent teeth continue to develop under the baby teeth. Once they’re ready to erupt, the primary teeth will start to fall out. This usually happens between the ages of 6 and 13.
Why are Baby Teeth So Important?
In the long run, teeth that are meant to be lost eventually might not seem important. However, without them your child wouldn’t be able to speak or chew while waiting for their permanent teeth. Furthermore, baby teeth help make sure that the permanent ones come in correctly; if they’re lost too early, your child might have a crooked or crowded smile, which can lead to a lot of pain and usually requires orthodontic treatment to correct. If you want your child to grow up with a healthy, beautiful set of ivories, you’ll need to start by making sure their baby teeth are well-cared for.
How Can You Take Care of Baby Teeth?
The first step is to start bringing your little one to your family dentist as soon as the first tooth shows up (or before their first birthday at the latest). The dentist can show you how to clean your little one’s pearly whites properly and show methods for stopping habits like thumb sucking.
Of course, you also need to make sure you’re taking care of your child’s baby teeth at home by following these steps:
- Keep their gums clean by wiping them with a moist gauze pad or washcloth.
- When your child is younger than 3 years old, you can brush their teeth with a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
- Between the ages of 3 and 6, you should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. When they start brushing on their own, supervise them to make sure they don’t swallow or use too much.
- Make sure their teeth are always being brushed twice a day.
Keep an eye on your little one’s smile, and make sure they have at least two dental checkups each year so that you can be sure their mouth is developing correctly. Remember: healthy baby teeth lead to healthy adult teeth!
About the Author
Thanks to over 39 years of experience and thousands of hours of continuing education, Dr. L. King Scott has developed a mastery of the dental field that lets him offer a full array of services to patients of all ages. He’s made sure that his practice in West Monroe provides a friendly and warm environment to help children feel as comfortable as possible as they receive the oral care they need. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (318) 325-4600.