The American Dental Association recognizes February as National Children’s Dental Health Month to help parents and other caregivers understand the importance of oral health for kids. Since a child’s first set of primary teeth fall out to make way for adult teeth, parents sometimes make the mistake of thinking that proper brushing, flossing, and professional dental care isn’t as important for younger kids.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The health of a child’s baby teeth plays an important role in long-term oral health. Another thing to consider is that the oral health habits people develop in childhood tend to stick with them throughout life. By setting a good example now, parents can help their children avoid painful and costly dental health issues later. Healthy teeth also give kids more confidence because they’re not afraid to show their smile.
The First Dental Visit Should Come Sooner Than Most Parents Realize
Parents can start caring for their child’s oral health long before the first tooth erupts. After a baby breastfeeds or takes a bottle, mom or dad can use a gauze pad to gently wipe the insides of the baby’s mouth. Taking this step helps prevent the growth of bacteria that can lead to future problems.
The American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommends that children visit the dentist for the first time by the time they turn one. For early teethers, the recommendation changes slightly to six months after the first birthday.
The first pediatric dental visit is an opportunity for parents to establish a relationship with a local dentist and raise any questions or concerns they have about their baby’s oral health. While the appointment won’t involve much hands-on dental care, the pediatric dentist will check the baby’s gums for signs of tooth eruption. By establishing a relationship with a pediatric dentist early, parents have someone to turn to when their baby starts teething and they need advice on how to keep their child more comfortable.
A Further Look at the Importance of Baby Teeth
Children have primary teeth first because their mouth and jaws are not yet large enough to accommodate permanent teeth. The first set of teeth plays a vital role in helping children speak, chew food to receive adequate nutrition, and smile. Another role of the primary teeth is to maintain space for the second set of teeth that most children develop between the ages of 6 and 12. If a child loses a baby tooth prematurely due to accident or decay, it can have a big impact on the alignment of future adult teeth.
Poor oral hygiene early in life can cause a build-up of bacteria that can get into the bloodstream and affect the adult teeth or other parts of the body. Here are some important things parents can do to encourage optimal oral health in their children:
- Limit the child’s intake of sugary snacks.
- Begin brushing a baby’s teeth as soon as they appear.
- Teach children to brush their own teeth as preschoolers but continue to supervise.
- Set a good example by eating a healthy diet and caring for their own teeth.
Southbridge Dentistry is Here to Help Parents and Kids
With our location in the Littleton, Colorado area, setting up an appointment for your child at Southbridge Dentistry is easy and convenient. Please contact us here or call us at 303-798-4967 to request an appointment today.