What You Need to Know About Baby Teeth
Why Are Baby Teeth Important??
You may wonder why baby teeth matter since they are going to fall out of the mouth one day. Baby teeth have many important roles in the mouth. They are needed for eating, speaking and smiling. Baby teeth help keep the space in the jaws for adult teeth. Commonly, the first adult teeth begin to come into the mouth around age 6, without succeeding any baby teeth (few parents realize this). Soon after, your child will lose their first baby tooth. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, talk to your child’s dentist about options to keep the correct space in the mouth for the adult tooth to come in. If the space for the adult teeth is not maintained, your child may need orthodontic treatment in the future.
When Do I See Baby Teeth??
The first baby teeth will break through the gums and into the mouth around 6 months of age. These are usually the front bottom teeth. The last baby teeth to come into the mouth are in the very back of the upper jaw. Around age 3, your child will likely have completed the eruption of baby teeth and would have 10 top teeth and 10 bottom teeth.
How Do I Take Care of Baby Teeth?
There are many things you can do to help care for your child’s baby teeth. Below is a list of ways to keep your child’s mouth healthy.
- Brush 2 times a day (morning and night) with fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities. For newborns, wipe the gums with a wet cloth or pad to keep the mouth clean. For children younger than age 3, use an amount of toothpaste that is the size of a grain of rice. For children 3 years and older, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Help your child brush their teeth for 2 minutes until you feel sure that your child will brush all sides of their teeth well.
- Clean between their teeth daily once you see two teeth that touch. This helps to get rid of food between teeth and under the gums. Using floss every day also helps to stop cavities from forming between teeth. Just like with brushing, help your child clean between their teeth until they can do it well on their own.
- Make regular visits to your child’s dentist. As soon as you see your baby’s first tooth – and no later than your child’s first birthday – visit the dentist for a checkup. Your dentist can tell you if your child has plaque or cavities, when to expect the next baby teeth to come in, and how to take good care of your child’s teeth depending on your habits. Also, some states require children to have a dental exam before they start school or finish certain grade levels.
- Watch your child’s diet. What your child eats and drinks can hurt their baby teeth. Some drinks including fruit juice and soda can be high in sugar or acid. Sugar and acid can make the outer shell (enamel) of teeth weak and put teeth at a higher risk for cavities.
- Ask your child’s dentist about sealants. A sealant is a special coating that goes into the grooves and pits of your child’s molars (back teeth). Sealants protect against cavities on the biting surfaces of the teeth, especially when your child is at high risk for cavities.
- Ask your child’s dentist about fluoride treatment, it is quick and painless, yet very important for preventing cavities. Your dentist may recommend to apply fluoride varnish during the cleaning visit. Fluoride compounds can even reverse early tooth decay.