Early Dental Care for Kids
A Child’s First Dental Visit
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 40 percent of children have decay by the time they reach kindergarten. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that every child should visit a dentist by age 1. This “well baby visit” teaches parents and caregivers how to care for their children’s teeth and help them remain cavity-free. Also at this first visit, your child will start to become comfortable with Dr. Wolbaum and his staff. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and will help put your child at ease during future dental visits.
Primary teeth are important for several reasons. Good teeth allow a child to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth. Children’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies. Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. For children under the age of 2, we recommend you wipe their gums with a washcloth after feeding. This will help get rid of the sticky coating called plaque that can cause tooth decay. Also, brush their teeth twice a day with water and a soft-bristle toothbrush.
For kids between the ages of 3-5, start using fluoride toothpaste at age 3. (Use only a pea-sized amount. Make sure your child spits it out after brushing.) Try to break thumb-sucking and pacifier habits by age 4.
For kids between the ages of 6-9, continue to help your child brush and floss their teeth twice a day. Always pay special attention to the back teeth, which may have more plaque. Let your child know that it’s normal for baby teeth to fall out. That’s how “grown-up” teeth come in.
For older children and teenagers, remind that a healthy smile and fresh breath will help them look and feel their best. It is important that they brush at least twice a day with a flouride toothpaste and floss daily. Require them to wear a protective mouth guard when playing sports to protect their smile. Encourage them to limit sugary and sticky foods and drinks.
Good Diet and Healthy Teeth
The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Many popular snacks that children eat cause cavities, so we recommend you offer your child healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.
Pioneer Hills Dental, located in Aurora, CO is a general and family dentistry practice. We are passionate about helping you and your children achieve and maintain optimal oral health and a beautiful smile! We focus on prevention, tooth preservation, and awareness and make every effort to treat our patients the way we treat members of our own family. We offer comprehensive care for your dental needs in a relaxed and efficient atmosphere. We look forward to meeting you and your family! Call us today at (303) 766-8811 to make an appointment.