As both a parent and a dentist I have many concerns about how we take care of baby teeth. Some parents think “what is the point of fixing or even brushing baby teeth since they will fall out?”
Is this true? By the age of 6 years old your child will begin to lose their baby teeth but until then we must take care of them. First of all they are important for the development of the jaw and face. They are important for the kids for social reasons as well. Missing teeth can compromise speech and therefore affect social interactions and self esteem. Of course we do need our teeth to eat. The baby teeth set the stage for the development of the adult teeth underneath. The baby teeth therefore holds that space for the new adult tooth and if this space is lost early because of a cavity, extraction or trauma then there may be an issue with crowding of the adult teeth.
So now that we agree that we need to take care of these cute “milk teeth” then lets review how to keep them healthy.
BRUSHING … All good habits start early so as soon as you see signs of teeth or even before you can start the daily routine. Start with a face cloth and wipe after each feeding. A gentle wipe with a damp face cloth will do. You may even want to get a rubber tooth brush that fits over your finger and have them chew on that. Me personally I had my daughter chew on a very soft infant toothbrush when she showed signs of teeth. She really liked it since it helped with sore gums. Just make sure to supervise them as you don’t want them to hurt themselves if they decided to put it in further in their mouth.
TOOTHPASTE…The type of tooth paste can be a real issue with some parents since they don’t know how to spit. If you plan to use non fluoridated tooth paste in the begging I recommend by the age of 3 they should start to learn how to spit and rinse to transition them to fluoride toothpaste. When using a fluoridate tooth paste only place the amount of a grain of rice.
Kids are particular with flavours so avoid the strong mint flavour until they are older. For now use the berries and bubblegum flavours. I even had one parent go as far as finding a chocolate flavoured tooth paste. Yes CHOCOLATE!!
FLOSSING…The dreaded “F” word. Yes your child should floss anywhere from daily or weekly depending on how the spacing of their teeth. You are not preventing gum disease but avoiding food from getting trapped between the teeth causing cavities. It’s a great habit to start early. Just ask us the next time you are in to show you how easy it can be.
Panic sets in when a parent calls me at the office and is concerned that their kid has a set of teeth growing behind the baby teeth. First of all this in NOT AN EMERGENCY. This is very common and happens mainly with the front top and bottom teeth. Also known as “shark teeth”. This happens when the adult tooth doesn’t grown right under the baby tooth therefore pushing it out. In certain situations the baby tooth may need to be extracted or the child and parent just need encouragement to make an effort to pull it out. Just give us a call and we will access the situation.
Grinding… my favourite. I think my daughter kept me up at night grinding her teeth and boy did she grind. So much that when her front baby tooth fell out there really was nothing left. Unlike adults kids grind and there is nothing we can do to stop it. A night guard is not the solution since they are still growing and a guard will not fit in a few months. So as long as they are growing we have to remind them during the day to stop and at night well… ear plugs? Kids grind due to stress but also they grind as their jaws grow and teeth shift the teeth don’t meet so they grind to make them fit. They most likely will grow out of it
Ok I could go on and on.
Hope you are all having a wonderful summer and hope this helped the new parents.
‘Let us keep you smiling’