A Guide to Children’s Dental Health
There are so many joyful firsts that come along with being a parent—your baby’s first steps, their first words, the first time they call you Mommy or Daddy, your kid’s first teeth.
Unfortunately, not all firsts are happy ones, like the first time they cry from teething pain or when they get their first cavity. As a parent, you’d give anything to protect your child from the bad things in life.
The good news is you can prevent most dental issues with regular dental hygiene and we’re here to answer your kid’s dentistry questions. Read on to find the answers to the most common dental questions parents have.
1. When do baby teeth come in?
Your baby’s first tooth is an exciting milestone, but don’t worry if it arrives earlier or later than you think it should.
Babies often start teething at six months, so you can expect your baby’s first tooth around that time. That said, some babies don’t get their first tooth until nine months, while some get theirs at three months. All babies are different, so don’t worry if your child’s first tooth arrives early or late.
You should book the first dental appointment for your baby when their first tooth arrives or at their first birthday, depending on which one happens first. At this appointment, the dentist will look at your baby’s gums, jaw, teeth, and bite to check for any potential issues.
It’s a chance for both you and your baby to get comfortable with the office and meet the dentist. Plus, you can ask any kid’s dentistry questions you have.
2. What is baby bottle tooth decay?
You may have heard about baby bottle tooth decay, but know that it’s a preventable condition. It’s another name for dental decay in infants and toddlers. The front teeth are often the first affected due to their contact with a bottle, which is how this condition gets its name.
It can happen when the sugars from formula, milk, or juice sit on the teeth for a long time. That’s why you should avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle of milk or using it as a pacifier.
If you notice white spots on the teeth or sensitivity, that can be an early sign of decay. As it gets worse, you might notice yellow stains or brown spots and swollen gums. Be sure to book a dentist appointment as soon as possible.
3. How do you brush baby teeth?
Good oral hygiene is key to keeping your baby healthy and happy. Before your baby’s first tooth appears, you should wipe their gums with a soft cloth after feeding. This removes extra sugars and bacteria from their gums and keeps their mouth healthy.
Once your child gets their first tooth, it’s time to upgrade to an infant toothbrush. Run the bristles under the water and brush all sides of your baby’s teeth and along their gums. Make sure to brush twice a day, and especially before bed.
Plain water works just fine for babies, but you can add kid’s toothpaste to the routine as your child gets older. Use a small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. Using too much toothpaste can lead to an upset stomach.
4. How do you brush your child’s teeth properly?
Around age 3, your child can start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. You should have them brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes. The best times to brush are after breakfast and after dinner.
Put fluoride toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush and run it under the water. You can let them hold the toothbrush and put your hand over theirs to guide them. That way you can teach them the proper way to brush while you make sure they reach every surface.
Once the two minutes are up, encourage them to tilt their mouth to let the toothpaste drain out or tell them to spit. As they get older, you won’t need to help as much but you should still watch them to make sure they’re brushing thoroughly.
5. How do I get my toddler to brush?
This is one of the most common dentistry questions. If your toddler doesn’t like brushing, turn it into a fun activity. Pick out a toothbrush with their favorite movie character or one that lights up or sparkles. You can even sing or play a toothbrushing song to make it more exciting.
Sometimes independent toddlers don’t enjoy brushing when you’re doing it for them. Let them hold onto the brush and try it for themselves. You can always take turns—they brush for 30 seconds, you brush for the next 30 seconds—to make sure they’re brushing correctly.
6. What do I do if my child loses a permanent tooth?
If your child gets a permanent tooth knocked out, it’s important to act quickly but don’t panic. Call your dentist immediately. The sooner you can get to the dentist, the better your chances are of saving the tooth.
Find the tooth and gently wipe away any dirt or dust. Avoid touching the root and try to gently reinsert the tooth in the socket. If you can’t insert the tooth, store it in a clean container with milk, salt water, or saliva.
Don’t scrub the tooth or wrap it in a napkin or the dentist will have a tougher time reattaching the tooth.
7. What should I do if my child has a toothache?
If your child complains of a toothache, first have them rinse their mouth with warm salt water. You can also give them acetaminophen for pain relief. If you notice any swelling, use a cold washcloth or ice pack for relief.
It’s also a good idea to book a dentist appointment any time your child has tooth pain. The dentist can check out the problem and offer reassurance to you and your child.
8. What if my child is afraid of the dentist?
As parents, our children’s joy is our joy, but their sadness is ours too. When kids are faced with something unknown, like a trip to the dentist, it can make them feel anxious or afraid. That can rub off on us and make us feel like we’re doing something wrong.
Instead of worrying about your child’s appointments, you can prevent and soothe their fears by talking about the dentist in a positive way. This takes the mystery out of the experience. Plus, it puts a positive spin on going to the dentist.
You can also set a good example as a parent. Treat your own dental visits as positive experiences and talk about what will happen at a dental appointment before you go. Try to focus on the positives and don’t use words like pain or hurt.
The better your child feels about the dentist, the better the chances they’ll develop healthy dental hygiene habits.
Still have dentistry questions? Book an appointment for your child today.
As a parent, you’re always trying to make sure your child lives the healthiest life possible. A great way to set your child up for success is by teaching them good dental hygiene habits and taking them to regular dental checkups.
If you still have dentistry questions, reach out to our office today to make an appointment. Dr. Rob specializes in family dentistry so both you and your child will feel at ease.