You may think that baby teeth aren’t necessary because they fall out, but baby teeth play an integral role in the health and positioning of the future adult teeth. Adult teeth erupt by resorbing the root of the baby tooth above it, so if a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the adult tooth has a higher likelihood of erupting in the wrong position. This can lead to crowding and malposition of adult teeth. It is essential to keep baby teeth healthy and cavity free until they are lost. Listed below are ways to maintain healthy baby teeth.
Tooth brushing and flossing help to remove plaque bacteria that cause cavities and gum inflammation. It is recommended to brush for 2 minutes, at least two times per day. Brushing is recommended as soon as the first tooth erupts around 6-12 months old. Before this point, a damp gauze or cloth can be used to run along the infant’s gums. Flossing is recommended for the in-between surfaces as soon as there is contact between any teeth. Either manual string floss or floss wands can be used.
It is important for parents/ caregivers to help with brushing and flossing until around the age of 8 to ensure an adequate job has been done.
Fluoride is an ingredient that is added to toothpaste and mouth rinses that reduce susceptibility to cavities by strengthening enamel – the outer layer of tooth structure. Fluoride can even halt small cavities from growing larger. When a child can spit out, or around the age of 3, it is recommended to begin incorporating fluoride into the daily routine. Most toothpaste that are labelled “infant” will not include fluoride, most toothpaste that are labelled “child” will include fluoride. Fluoride mouth rinses may be recommended as an added dose when a child has previously had cavities or is at a higher risk for cavities.
Sugar intake has a direct correlation with cavity risk. The types of foods that are particularly cavity causing for baby teeth are anything that is sticky, chewy or gummy. These types of sweets are retentive in the nooks and crannies’ of molars and prolong the exposure to sugar. It is recommended to reduce the consumption of sugary foods and to brush/ use fluoride after consumption of sugary foods. If it is not possible to brush after a sweet snack, rinsing with water helps to remove some of the food particles.
Regular dental cleaning and check-ups are an essential way to keep baby teeth healthy. Dental cleanings remove bacteria that is difficult to access with a toothbrush and dental floss at home. During the appointment, the teeth will be thoroughly cleaned and assessed for cavities.
If your child is due for a cleaning/check-up or if you have any questions about caring for your child’s teeth, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.