So here are some things you should know about their teeth. Please don’t take the attitude that “They are just baby teeth, they’ll lose them.” Besides being easier to chew, keeping them healthy keeps them out of pain and each baby tooth is reserving a place for a permanent tooth that will show up later. Take the placeholder out early and that space may be lost.
The normal number of baby teeth is 20 and all are present under the gums at birth and will generally start coming in around 6 months. I’ve seen 13 month olds without a single tooth yet and I have a granddaughter with 21. Neither is a problem.
Some children will have no troubles teething while others have nothing but trouble, becoming fussy, irritable, have trouble sleeping and drool a lot. Running a fever is not part of the teething process. In rare cases, an eruption cyst may develop. In 34 years I have only seen it once, and that was on my son. Talk about cranky!! Simple incisions and a little while later he was like a new person. Most will have all of their primary teeth in by age 3 and many even by age 2.
Decay can actually start as soon as that first tooth appears, so as soon as it does, start brushing them. It used to be recommended not to use a fluoride toothpaste until they could spit. Yes, too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration known as fluorosis, but that takes a lot. Up until they are 3 years old, just use an amount about the size of a grain of rice. After 3, a pea-sized amount is enough.
The American Dental Association recommends their first dental visit be no later than their 1st birthday. Honestly, there is little we will be doing in their mouth at that time. It is more about helping make sure you are doing everything right for them and hopefully doing no harm. It is also great to have them accustomed to seeing us, before there is a need to such as trauma, which can be accomplished by bringing them with you for your recare appointments. We have had to extract baby teeth on a 13 month old due to baby bottle tooth decay which results from prolonged exposure to sugary liquids. Never put a child to bed with a bottle or use a bottle as a pacifier unless it has water only in it and preferably water with fluoride. Even “sippy cups” can be problem.
Should you floss their teeth? Absolutely if they have two that touch, particularly the two back molars in each quadrant.
Sealants can also significantly reduce the risk of decay in molar teeth. I cannot think of an insurance company that doesn’t cover sealants on permanent molars which usually come in around age 6 (1st molars) and age 12 for 2nd molars.
Have any questions about these ideas? Call the office at 889-5200 or ask us at your next appointment.