Though many parents overlook it, the care of your child’s baby teeth is essential for healthy development. They eventually fall out, which leads many parents to think they don’t need the same care as adult teeth later in life. This isn’t the case! Taking care of your child’s baby teeth is an important step, so here’s what to know about why they matter and what you can do.
Baby teeth play many different important roles in your child’s health.
Since digestion starts in the mouth, healthy teeth are essential for proper chewing and absorption of nutrients. If your child’s teeth aren’t working as they should, it can be difficult for them to eat and get the nutrients they need.
Neglected teeth (even baby teeth!) can develop cavities that cause bacterial infections to spread throughout the body, particularly the brain and neck. These infections are dangerous and require hospitalization.
Baby teeth set and hold the space and positioning where the permanent adult teeth will develop. Premature tooth loss can cause the adult teeth to settle into positions that can lead to crowded teeth, gapped teeth, and tooth impactions.
Properly aligned teeth are anchors for correct formation of facial bones and muscles. Misalignment because of premature loss or decay can cause misalignment of facial bones and muscles. Improper facial development can lead to a host of other problems as your child matures.
The ability to speak well and pronounce words correctly is directly tied to tooth alignment, as well as a complete set of teeth. Speech impediments can be traced to missing or crooked teeth. With speech being an integral part of your child’s development, it’s important to make sure they have everything they need to succeed.
A great set of teeth means your child doesn’t need to worry about feeling unconfident about their smile, either now or later in life. If they lose teeth because of things like infection or cavities, it can mean they’ll likely feel self-conscious when they’re at their best.
As a parent, there are a few things you can do to make sure your child’s baby teeth are healthy and well.
It’s usually recommended to schedule your child’s first dentist appointment by their first birthday or within six months of the first tooth appearing.
Your infant’s teeth are exposed to sugars from the bottle over long periods while sleeping, risking tooth decay. Avoid this to prevent cavities from developing early on.
Establishing a regular routine of oral hygiene early can help prevent future tooth decay. Also, use age-appropriate toothbrushes and toothpaste. Your child’s dentist can recommend the right oral hygiene regimen for your child’s age.
A diet high in sugary foods such as juice, soda, chips, candy, and cookies greatly increases tooth decay risk and premature tooth loss. Make sure your child eats a well-rounded diet with plenty of whole foods.
Dental x-rays are a great tool to monitor tooth health and development and detect problems before they become serious. Your child’s dentist can recommend how often your child should get x-rays.
After their first appointment, children should have regular six-month check-ups, just like adults. Standard practices such as dental exams, cleanings, and fluoride treatments can help maintain oral health and prevent common dental problems from developing. Your child’s dentist can also recommend the best ways to maintain their oral health at home.
It’s important to set your child up for a healthy future with their oral health. To meet with our pediatric team and learn more about how to keep your child’s teeth healthy, we invite you to contact our Berlin office by calling or filling out our online form.