Dental Care for Your Baby

Many parents wonder when they should start doing formal dental care on their baby’s teeth since at first no teeth are visible. At Beanca Chu DDS, we always recommend that parents begin dental care for their baby at an early age to establish positive habits. The baby’s 20 primary teeth are present at birth. They begin to come in when the baby is between 6 months and 1 year of age. Every child is different, but most babies get their top and bottom front teeth first. And by the time the child is 3 years old, the entire set has usually erupted.

During teething, when the first set of teeth come in, babies may have very sore and tender gums. Parents can alleviate the pain by rubbing the child’s gums with a clean finger or a wet gauze pad. Frozen teething rings or a small, cool spoon can sometimes help the pain as well. But after you’ve tried these things, if your baby is still in pain, consider visiting us at Beanca Chu DDS if you have concerns that the pain needs to be addressed in some other way.

Baby teeth are essential to your child’s overall health and development. Your child’s teeth will play an important role in his or her diet, chewing and eating, their ability to speak and pronounce words properly, and in their self-esteem. And baby teeth also play a vital role for the permanent teeth that will come in much later in a child’s life. The baby teeth hold space in your child’s jaws for the permanent teeth which are growing under the gums during the early years of a child’s life. When a baby tooth is lost too early, for example, due to an accident or decay, the permanent teeth may start to drift out of position. When this happens, the permanent teeth move around under the gumline and then it can be hard for the permanent teeth to find room to come in. They may end up coming in crowded or crooked. That’s why it’s so important for parents to make sure their baby receives excellent dental care from the very beginning of their child’s life.

After the baby’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to see the dentist for the first time. If the baby’s first birthday comes before that first tooth erupts, make a dental visit around this time instead. Well-Baby visits are essential to establish a baseline for the child’s dental development. Having a dental visit at a very early age allows the dentist to identify any future problems that are likely to take shape and plan ahead to change the course of these events if it would be beneficial to do so.

At an initial Well-Baby visit at Beanca Chu DDS, the dentist will check the child’s erupted teeth for cavities and other problems. They’ll talk with the parents about how to properly care for the baby’s teeth and how to deal with issues like thumb-sucking. This visit will also help the child get comfortable in the dental chair so that future visits can go smoothly. When dental visits start at an early age, kids are much less likely to suffer anxiety going to the dentist because their initial experiences are positive. Allowing your child time to become comfortable going to the dentist is likely to shape their habits regarding tooth-care over the course of their lifetime. Children who have early, positive experiences with dentists are more likely to grow into adults who continue going to the dentist whenever needed, rather than waiting until it’s too late, or until a small issue becomes a big issue.

When your child is a baby, dental care starts with the following activities:

● At Beanca Chu DDS, we always recommend that parents care for a young baby’s gums by wiping his or her mouth and gums after eating with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as a tooth has erupted, there’s a danger of decay. So when those first four front teeth come in around the age of 6 months, begin to brush the teeth gently with a child-sized toothbrush. Remember, every child differs in terms of when the first front teeth come in. Though the average age is 6 months, some children get their first front teeth sooner and others don’t see their first tooth until they’re 12 to 14 months of age.

● Kids who are under the age of 3 years should start brushing their own teeth as soon as the teeth start coming in. By teaching kids to start brushing at an early age, kids learn positive dental hygiene habits early and stick with them. Use only a tiny amount of toothpaste on the brush at first and have the child brush thoroughly two times per day (in the morning and at night) or as directed by your dentist. Always watch over your child as he or she brushes to ensure that they use the proper amount of toothpaste.

● Children under the age of 3 to 6 years should use a slightly larger glob of toothpaste. A pea-sized amount is about right for kids in this age range. Continue to supervise children as they brush their teeth and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste. At Beanca Chu DDS, we regularly show children and their parents how to brush properly and how to keep brushing fun.

● Continue to brush your child’s teeth until you feel confident that the child can handle brushing the teeth on his or her own. Brush twice a day and use only a small amount of toothpaste. When the child has at least two teeth that are touching, it’s time to start brushing their teeth twice daily.

Proper dental care should start even before the baby’s first teeth erupt in the mouth and dental visits should start on or around the child’s first birthday. By establishing a solid dental care regime early in a child’s life, major (or minor) issues can hopefully be avoided or dealt with before they become serious or permanent and children will learn to look forward to dental visits rather than dreading them.