National Children’s Dental Health Month
February is National Children's Dental Health Month. From your child's early years into their teens, you play a vital role regarding the health of their teeth. Your efforts are something that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Children learn by mimicking -- if they see their parents brushing their teeth, they will naturally be curious about brushing their teeth too. So it is you that will set them on the path to good dental habits. To help you, here are some basics to know about children's teeth.
Primary teeth are the first teeth that come in when your child is an infant. Their 4 front primary teeth will last until they are about 6-7 years old. Their cuspids and molars until they are about 10-13 years old. Unfortunately, some parents don't worry about dental care while their child has their primary teeth. After all, they will lose these teeth, right? But this could not be further from the truth. Here are some of the roles of your baby's primary teeth:
They help your baby chew. They help your child chew his food properly which will help him/her with their digestion.
These first teeth play a role in helping them to learn to speak and smile. Teeth help your child learn to talk. If they are missing teeth in their early years it can affect the proper development of their speech.
The primary teeth hold space in the jaw for the permanent teeth to grow under the baby teeth. This is a very important function of baby teeth. While the adult teeth are forming underneath the baby’s gums, the baby teeth keep space available so that the adult teeth can grow normally into the mouth. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded.
They assist the normal development of the jaw muscles. Just like other muscles in the body, a baby’s jaw muscles need exercise to help them develop. Their primary teeth help with proper chewing and this helps to build these muscles.
The primary teeth are eventually replaced by a set of 32 permanent teeth -- 16 in each jaw. The first permanent teeth that come in are molars that come in between ages 6 and 7 years. They do not "replace" any existing teeth. This sometimes leads parents to believe they are baby teeth. But they are permanent teeth and they are important to the development of your child's lower face and affect the position and health of other permanent teeth.
5 Tips to Getting Your Child on the Right Start for Dental Health
As soon as your baby's first tooth appears you should start teaching them about brushing their teeth. Start your baby off with a soft toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste (like the size of a grain of rice). As they get older (3-6 years old), you can increase the amount of toothpaste to the size of a pea. When they start learning to brush on their own, this is great! But you want to supervise their brushing so you can make sure they are doing it thoroughly and are not swallowing the toothpaste.
When you see that your child has two teeth touching, you want to start flossing their teeth. This will be between the ages of 2-6. Again, you can let them start doing it on their own when they are ready but you need to supervise it to make sure they do it correctly.
Schedule your child to see a dentist after the first tooth comes in and no later than their first birthday. Your dentist can check for cavities and ensure there are no other problems. This is also a great time to have your dentist show you how to brush your baby's teeth properly.
We recommend you take your child for a dental checkup every six months.
Reward your child for good dental habits. For example, you can print this calendar for your child to keep track of brushing their teeth.
Natural teeth can last a lifetime if they are taken care of. Start your child in their early years on the path of dental health. And, don't put off getting your child to a dentist. Contact us now to schedule. We are opened and ready to service you and your child!
Have a great month!
Dr. Nahid Afshari