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Baby Teeth Basics

Caring for Your Baby's Teeth

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Updated: March 5, 2008

Since babies don’t come with instructions, it’s important for parents to learn the basics about caring for all aspects their children’s health, including dental care. The information provided here will answer some common concerns about baby teeth, also known as primary teeth.

Are Baby Teeth Really Important?

Yes, yes and yes! I have seen many parents opt to pull their child’s baby tooth rather than fill a cavity because “it is only a baby tooth and will come out eventually anyway.” Baby teeth serve important purposes such as helping the child to speak normal and clear, and to chew naturally. Baby teeth also hold a place for permanent teeth to come in properly.

Will Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking Harm My Baby’s Teeth?

According to the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, pacifiers and thumb sucking only present a problem if they persist for a long time, such as when the permanent teeth began to arrive.

Can I Brush My Baby’s Teeth?

Yes, but without toothpaste. You can use a small toothbrush with soft bristles at bedtime to remove plaque and bacteria. Instead of using toothpaste, just use a small amount of water. There are several soft bristled toothbrushes on the market that are designed specifically for infants.

When Can I Use Toothpaste for my Child?

At age two or three, a child should be ready to use toothpaste with fluoride. It is very important that only a small amount of toothpaste is used, such as the amount of a pea. The child should also be watched while brushing to be sure they spit out the excess toothpaste instead of swallowing it.

What Is the Proper way to Brush my Child’s Teeth?

Brushing your children’s teeth at least twice a day is very important, but it should also be done properly. This easy step by step guide with photos will show you the proper way to brush your child’s teeth.

When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist for the First Time?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should visit a pediatric dentist when their first tooth comes in or no later than their first birthday.

What Is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist is a dental specialist that has not only completed four years of dental school, but has also completed an additional 2 to 3 years of specialty training to treat children only.

Many general dentists treat children as well as adults, but a pediatric dentist only treats children. The goal of a pediatric dentist is to teach children the importance of oral hygiene, how to take care of their teeth and to help children feel comfortable about visiting the dentist.

Many pediatric dentists do not allow parents to go back in the treatment rooms with the children. If this is a big issue for you, be sure to ask this question if you are looking for a pediatric dentist.

How Often Should my Child Have a Dental Check Up?

Most children should see their dentist for a regular cleaning and check up every six months. Your dentist will determine if there are any special circumstances that might require more frequent visits.

What Will Happen at My Child’s Check Up?

Many children are terrified of the dentist, but going to the dentist doesn't have to be scary if they know what to expect. These photos will show you and your children what happens at the dentist for a routine check up and cleaning.

When Will my Child get Permanent Teeth?

This chart will show you which permanent teeth your child should be getting at specific ages.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Helpful Hints for a Healthy Smile30 January 2008.

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