Children learn from an early age about what constitutes good oral hygiene. But what if you’re not entirely sure of that yourself? Here are some common misconceptions about children’s teeth and dental care.
Baby Teeth are Not Important – Since baby teeth all fall out and permanent adult teeth take their place, they’re not so important, right? Wrong! Baby teeth (also known as milk teeth) act as placeholders for permanent teeth, and help to guide them into the correct position. They also enable proper jaw growth, so that teeth aren’t overcrowded. If baby teeth are damaged, it is very possible that permanent teeth may be at greater risk of tooth decay during Mixed Denition (time between first permanent molar and loss of last baby tooth). Early loss of baby teeth may also cause loss of self-esteem and confidence. Within 6 months of baby’s first tooth making its appearance, there should be a visit to the pediatric dentist, to begin proper dental hygiene.
Sweets Cause Tooth Decay – Teaching your child to avoid junk food as much as possible and eat lots of fruits and vegetables is good for their overall health as well as dental health. However, it’s not sweets that cause tooth decay, but sticky foods in general. When food remains on your teeth, the bacteria in your mouth has ample time to turn the sugar into acid, which then eats away at tooth enamel. Starchy foods like pasta, potato chips and white bread turn into sugar as soon as you eat them, so they have the same effect on your teeth as candy.
A Soft Toothbrush with a Rounded Group of Bristles is Best – Actually, the type of brush and even the type of toothpaste doesn’t matter nearly as much as a child’s brushing technique. The most important thing is to make sure that your kids reach every surface of their teeth when brushing. There’s a tendency for right-handed people to do a better job of cleaning the left side of their mouth and left-handers will better clean the right side. This is because they begin brushing the opposite side first and put more effort into it. Teach your kids to pay attention to all their teeth equally.
Parents Should be Strict About Brushing, and Toothbrushes Aren’t Toys – Actually, one of the best ways to introduce kids to brushing is to let toddlers have a toothbrush as a toy, as they’ll undoubtedly put it into their mouth, which will get them used to the idea of having it there! If you introduce tooth brushing as a fun activity that you can do together with your child (rather than an unpleasant chore), they’ll enjoy doing what their parents are doing. Children usually learn by example. Teach them to brush in a circular motion and to pull back their lower lip for easier access to the lower front teeth for better cleaning. It’s frequently the lower front teeth that are the most neglected.
Teeth Should be Brushed Early Morning – It makes far more sense to wait after breakfast, since their mouths are already clean from the night before. If it’s difficult to brush and floss after every meal, have them brush twice a day, after breakfast and before bedtime. Give them a fresh toothbrush every 2 to 3 months.
Children and Dental Care – What to Look Out For
- Regular Monitoring and Check-Ups – Check your child’s teeth for black spots, and notice if they have bad breath, red gums or loose teeth. If you see any of these warning signs, take them for a visit to their pediatric dentist. Even if all is well, take them for a checkup every 6 months.
- Rules for Losing Baby Teeth – Don’t panic if the initial alignment of a permanent tooth isn’t quite right when it first erupts. This is normal, and it will usually correct itself. Confirm with their dentist that everything is OK. When a baby tooth falls out, make sure the child doesn’t brush that area too hard, since it’s very sensitive. Keep track of when the permanent tooth appears. If it isn’t completely grown in 5 to 6 months, see your pediatric dentist. Don’t let the child pull out a tooth. If the roots break, bacteria may form and cause an infection. Let it fall out on its own. If it’s loose and doesn’t fall out within a few months, their dentist should see if it must be removed.
- The Right Age to Lose Baby Teeth – The first baby tooth falls out at approximately 6 years of age (typically the lower front teeth). They continue to fall out until age 12. This isn’t a set timeline, so if your child is a bit different, you shouldn’t be concerned. However, make sure that their pediatric dentist is keeping track. Early tooth loss may indicate decay, and this can affect jaw development, the position of their permanent teeth and even nasal structure. If teeth are lost early, they may need to use a space maintainer to ensure that the oral cavity develops properly.