Baby teeth, or primary teeth, are the foundation for both a health childhood and healthy adult teeth. Oral hygiene habits form early, so get your child off to a great start in life. A little knowledge can help parents build a lifetime of pleasant dental experiences for a child.
1. Can baby teeth get cavities? Early Childhood Cavities is a childhood disease that can be prevented. The following steps can help guard your baby against this painful condition – and ask your dentist or physician for more information.
It’s best not to put a bottle in bed with your baby. But if you must put a bottle in bed with your baby, put only plain water in it. Any liquid except water, even milk and juice, can cause cavities. You can use a bottle to feed your baby at regular feeding times, but allowing the bottle to be used as a pacifier can be a major cause of cavities.
- Hold your baby while feeding him/her. If your baby falls asleep, remove the bottle and put him/her in bed.
- Avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle.
- Avoid letting your toddler walk around with a bottle.
2. Do I need to fill a baby tooth if it is going to fall out anyway?
Yes! Even though primary (baby) teeth do fall out eventually, they still have nerve tissue inside and can become infected, or abcess, if not treated in a timely fashion. Baby teeth stay in the mouth until the age of 11-13, or even older. Cavities can lead to several other problems such as:
- Tooth loss
- Ear and speech problems
- Crooked permanent teeth
- Severe pain
- Poor self-image
- Tooth decay
3. How many teeth will my baby get, and when will they get them?
Between 3 and 9 months, your infant’s baby teeth will begin to erupt (emerge into the mouth). The process starts with the lower two front teeth (incisors). Timing varies considerably among children. However, the order is very predictable. After the four incisors come in on both the lower and upper jaw, the first molars erupt. Canines (eye teeth) follow and then the second molars further back in the mouth. Most children have a full set of 20 baby teeth by age 2½ or 3.
4. How do I make brushing my child’s teeth a more pleasant experience, for both of us?
Make sure you are brushing your child’s teeth at least twice a day, after breakfast and before bedtime at a minimum. And yes, until school age, parents need to do the brushing. Often, it is easiest to sit down on the floor or a sofa and cradle your child’s head in your lap. This helps the child stay relaxed and still, and gives the parent that is doing the brushing good access to all th teeth. Try slowly singing a song like “The ABC Song each time, so your child knows how long the brushing will take. Do you have a child that wants to “do it myself!”? Once you are done, let your child “finish up” by practicing brushing themselves. And of course, lots of praise makes the chore more fun for everyone.
– Suzy Durkee RDH, BS
Suzy works at Hibbeln & Kowal Dental in Rochester Hills, MI www.handkdental.com