According to both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association, babies should first visit the dentist either at one year of age or as soon as their first tooth erupts. This recommendation is surprising to many new parents who wonder why caring for baby teeth is so important. In this post we will discuss why caring for baby teeth is important and what you should be doing to keep your baby’s smile healthy.
Why baby teeth are important
Although they are temporary, baby teeth are still an extremely important part of your child’s overall health. Baby teeth are a key part of early childhood development and help children learn how to speak clearly, chew, and even smile. Baby teeth also serve as space holders for permanent teeth that are developing beneath the gums.
When baby teeth fall out too early, it can cause permanent teeth to shift into that space, resulting in overcrowding, crooked teeth, and other issues as more adult teeth begin to emerge. Damage to baby teeth such as infections or decay can also harm the permanent adult teeth that are developing below the gumline. For these reasons it is extremely important to take your child’s dental care seriously, establishing strong oral care habits from a very early age.
How to care for baby teeth
Now that you know just how important baby teeth are, you are probably wondering how to keep your baby’s teeth healthy and strong. Below are some key ways to care for your child’s teeth, setting them up for a healthy smile for years to come.
Get an early start
We suggest establishing good dental habits even before baby teeth begin to emerge. One of the best ways to do this is to use a damp washcloth or piece of gauze to wipe off your baby’s gums after every feeding.
Care for teeth as soon as they emerge
Your baby’s first teeth may begin to come in when they are only six months old, although this varies from child to child, with some babies not teething until they are a year or 14 months of age. It is crucial to begin caring for your child’s new teeth as soon as they appear to prevent decay. We suggest using a small amount of toothpaste (smaller than a rice grain) to brush twice daily.
Schedule a dentist appointment
It is also important to start taking your child to the dentist at a very early age. Current guidelines suggest a baby’s first visit should be either as soon as their first tooth grows in or by the age of one. Aside from evaluating your baby’s dental health and ensuring there are no issues, your pediatric dentist can also give you advice on caring for your baby’s teeth and dealing with common childhood dental issues such as thumb sucking.
Looking for a Chattanooga pediatric dentist?
If you are looking for a pediatric dentist in Chattanooga or the surrounding area, we are here to help! Our pediatric dentistry serves Signal Mountain, Hixson, Apison, Rossville, Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe, Ooltewah, Collegedale, and Graysville. Contact us today!