“They are just going to fall out anyway…let’s leave the decay” and “That’s a lot of money to spend on baby teeth, can’t we just pull them?” sadly is what you hear many times as a clinician from parents who don’t understand the importance of fixing decay in baby teeth.
Yes! Baby teeth are important.
Dental professionals will try to save a tooth until it is considered “hopeless.” To persuade parents to clean out the decay and fix those teeth in question, we would start by explaining their age in relation to when the adult teeth erupt into the mouth. Showing parents an eruption chart helps explain how long those cute little baby teeth actually stick around. Many times, parents are really surprised by how long the baby molars stay in their little one’s mouth.
As you can see the first adult tooth can appear at 6-7 years old and the last will be lost around ages 10-13. Keep in mind some kiddos are early or late with these numbers and can lose their first tooth as early as 4 and lose their last baby tooth at 14!
I like to briefly explain to parents the anatomy of the tooth. It’s surprising how quickly the decay can travel to the nerve of the tooth if left untreated and how painful that experience can be for the child, especially if it becomes infected.
Let’s talk about prevention!
Reinforcing how to prevent cavities will drive home to the parents not only how we plan to do everything their child needs today but also how to avoid cavities with future teeth.
Keeping those baby teeth cleaned keeps them free from decay. Teeth help children eat and digest food, speak properly and stay healthy. Missing teeth cause shifting and crowded teeth which can lead to needing orthodontic care like braces.
Start Good Oral Health Habits Early!
Remind parents it’s never too young to teach your little ones about good oral health. Starting to brush your baby’s gums before they even get teeth is a great way to get them used to it. When brushing your baby’s teeth there are a few things you should remember to make it a little easier – because we know babies aren’t always the most cooperative.
- Lie your baby in a comfortable place.
- Make sure you can see into your baby’s mouth.
- Use a soft baby brush or wrap your finger in a clean damp washcloth. Then brush or wipe your baby’s gums and teeth.
- Do not use toothpaste until your child has teeth.
Helpful Tooth Tips:
- Children under 3 years of age should use a squeeze of low or no fluoridated toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. While children 3-6 years of age should use only a small amount (pea size) of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Brushing your little one’s teeth can be a fun time! Use a song to help them pass the time like the ABCs twice or a sand timer to watch how much time they have left, once it’s empty they are done brushing!
- Keep a toothbrushing chart to fill out as brushing is completed, and use stickers to reward, not sweets, on their charts!
- Keep it fun, so brushing time doesn’t become stressful.
- Flossing with floss pics is easier on both child and parents.
- Children thrive on routines, try to keep a schedule for brushing and flossing. This helps kiddos to know what to expect each day.
- Continue to help kiddos brush their teeth until around age 6-7 and they have developed good brushing techniques.
So -Yes baby teeth are so important, help your child keep their smile bright and cavity-free!