Oral health in children is about more than the tooth fairy. Dental hygiene lays the foundation for a healthy smile for years to come. Improper dental care in early development can set a child up for potentially painful dental problems later on.
A child’s first tooth can erupt anywhere from early infancy to over one year of age. Typically, all primary teeth are fully grown by two and one half years of age. The care of these teeth is critical for healthy adult teeth. Around six years old, baby teeth begin to loosen, as they are replaced by the teeth a child will have for the rest of their lives. Thus, caring for the first set of teeth helps to strengthen the permanent teeth to come.
Cavities are more common than many childhood conditions, including asthma and allergies. When left untreated, decay can affect other teeth, as well as cause problems with the proper eruption of the permanent teeth waiting beneath the surface. Many parents falsely assume that a baby tooth with decay can be pulled with no ill effects. However, the truth is that baby teeth guide the adult teeth into their proper position by maintaining the space each tooth needs. When a baby tooth is extracted too soon, the adult tooth can grow in too close to the tooth in front of it, or so far back that a permanent gap is left remaining.
Protect Baby Teeth
Primary baby teeth serve other functions, as well. Children in school demonstrate better pronunciation when they have a healthy set of primary teeth. A serious adverse reaction from an untreated cavity is the development of an abscess. An abscess is an infection caused by bacteria, and it presents as a collection of pus in the gum of the decayed tooth that will merit an appointment with a Colorado Springs dentistry professional or one from your specific area. This condition can lead to excruciating pain, as well as fever and swelling. Children who receive appropriate dental checkups, beginning with the eruption of the first baby tooth, can avoid these situations altogether.
Brushing and Flossing Habits
It is important for a child’s oral health to learn early on how to properly brush and floss. This is where parents come in. Up to age two, parents can clean their baby’s teeth using water or preparations for small children that do not contain fluoride. At two, begin brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste intended for younger children. At six, regular adult toothpaste may be used.
A parent should make tooth brushing and flossing a part of their everyday routine. Fear of the dentist can be avoided by scheduling the first visit by one year of age, and maintaining regular appointments throughout early childhood, into the teen years. Understand how vital these early years are, and how those first visits can affect a child’s smile for life. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has resources to help parents.
Children grow up so fast. And seeing a child smiling happily is one of the greatest things in life. But for some children, poor dental health makes them self-conscious, and they stop smiling. No child should ever stop smiling due to unhealthy teeth. Early and regular dental checkups and proper cleaning can save that smile now and for the future.