Parents: How to care for your child’s teeth

We love our patients here at Valley Dental and with many of our patients being blessed with new babies this spring, we wanted to offer some helpful hints and hopefully answer some questions you as a parent might have! While adults typically have 32 teeth, babies usually develop only 20 teeth. A baby’s 20 teeth are actually already in their little jaws at birth! Typically, they won’t begin to appear until they reach 6 months to 1 year old but are usually are completely through the gum tissue by the time they are 3 years old. The tooth eruption chart below can offer some guidance on the order of when teeth should appear (keeping in mind that all children develop differently, so if they are in the exact same order, that’s ok!).
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As to be expected, teething can be a difficult time for a baby and they may have sore and tender gums. To help sooth them, gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad. A teeth ring is also an option! If they are still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist or physician because even though baby teeth are temporary, they are very important to your child’s health and development. They help your child chew, speak and smile. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space. That can make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in which can cause some crowding or crooked teeth. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.

At Valley Dental, we see children of all ages. However, if you have some concerns or your child had a type of trauma to the mouth occur, a checkup is always advised! Besides checking for cavities and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean your child’s teeth properly.

It’s important to care for your baby’s teeth from the start. Here are some dental practices we suggest:
• Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
• As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur!
• For children younger than 3 years, start brushing their teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste (if they are able to spit, if unable to, use a non-fluoridated toothpaste) in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
• For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
• Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
• When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin cleaning between their teeth daily.

For additional information and helpful videos on how to care for your child’s teeth, please visit https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-teeth

This article was written by Valley Dental

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