Baby Teeth, Big Habits

by Baylor Scott & White Staff on March 19, 2013

in Parenting

smileI can remember my first visit from the tooth fairy.  I tucked my baby tooth in a small box and snuck it under my pillow. As I awoke the next morning, I was excited to find money left behind.

What I didn’t realize, however, is how I was transitioning into an important stage of my childhood. The dental habits I established as a child would shape my adult hygiene for years to come.

Scott & White dentist, Dr. Kyle Frazier  provides excellent dental care and helps children and families learn proper dental habits.

“Make sure your child sees a dentist regularly to have any questions regarding their dental health answered,” says Dr. Frazier. “Remember – it’s important to instill good dental habits in your kids. It’s the start of a lifetime with a healthy mouth.”

To get your children off to a happy start and a healthy mouth, consider the following dental tips:

1. Never too Early to Start

A child’s dental health begins during pregnancy. Dr. Frazier cautions that some medications taken during pregnancy can affect the child’s teeth, resulting in discoloration or other risks and should be discussed with your physician.

Young children are at risk of transmission of oral bacteria from their parents. This means that your diet, how much plaque you accumulate, and overall oral hygiene could affect your child’s health. Consider your own hygiene to help your child.

2. First Tooth, First Visit

After the baby arrives and you survive the drool, pain and irritation that come with a baby’s first tooth, you should begin proper dental hygiene.

“Parents should start brushing their child’s teeth as soon as they get their first tooth,” says Dr. Frazier. “Not only does this protect these teeth, but it also instills good oral hygiene habits in the child from an early age.”

Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend a child being seen by a dentist by age one. Dr. Frazier says teeth start erupting on average at age six months, so an early first dental appointment is suggested.

3. Counting Teeth

As your baby grows you will notice the development of your baby’s teeth and some differences from adult teeth.  Dr. Frazier says there are only 20 baby teeth, whereas there are 32 adult teeth.

Although they are few, they are mighty. These baby teeth need proper care, just as adult teeth to help them stay strong, assist with proper eating, and provide healthy development.

4. Spaces and Shape

As baby teeth come in, you may be worried about a gap or a strangely shaped tooth.

“Spaces are normal in the developing dentition and it is normal for new teeth to look strange,” says Dr. Frazier. Not all are normal, however, and as you take your child to regular checkups, your dentist will ensure there are no problems with the tooth development.

Baby teeth are smaller and whiter. Adult teeth are larger, and may look slightly more yellow as they come in alongside baby teeth. Adult teeth may also have small bumps on the edges called mamelons; these tend to go away over time.

5. Habits Start Early

As you teach your child to “open wide” and brush well, you will be forming habits they will use for the rest of their life.

“Only soft-bristled toothbrushes should be used and the child should brush twice a day,” says Dr. Frazier. “Parents should monitor and help young children with brushing.”

Brushing and flossing can put your child on a path to proper hygiene for life. Proper dental habits are important because there comes a time when teeth no longer go to the tooth fairy, but go to the dentist and may result in costly procedures.

6. Overcoming Fear of the Dentist

Going to the dentist can be intimidating for both children and adults. “Most patients can be seen with no problems, but some do require sedation in order to have a good experience,” says Dr. Frazier.

It is important for patients to have good experiences so they will be motivated to go back to the dentist on a regular basis.

7. Healthy Habits, Happy Teeth

It is dangerous to think that just because baby teeth fall out, there is no need for early dental care.

“Good hygiene allows you and your children to keep your teeth,” says Dr. Frazier. “Tooth loss results in a lower quality of life and tends to be expensive in the long run.”

Good hygiene is important, but can sometimes be difficult if your child is resistant. Stay consistent and tell us, what have you done to help establish healthy dental habits for your children?

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