Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, play a much bigger role in a child’s overall growth and development than most people consider. Baby teeth are important for eating, speech, and appearance, but they also help guide permanent teeth to their proper place. If left unchecked, baby teeth can spread decay to new teeth in the process.
Learning to properly brush and floss at a young age is important to keeping teeth cavity-free. Not only does teaching these good habits instill learnings of how to brush and how often, but healthy primary teeth are an important foundation for healthy adult teeth.
In some cases, cavities don’t cause your child constant pain but they can still lead to more serious conditions. They may also affect your child’s ability to enjoy certain sweet but healthy foods like apples and berries. In extreme cases, this can lead to malnutrition. Poor oral health at any age can also lead to abscesses and teeth, gum, or underlying bone infections.
Proper brushing habits are the best treatment and can prevent these serious health concerns from affecting your child now and later in life. Regular, thorough teeth cleanings can reduce these risks and stop decay before it starts.
Baby teeth come in at around six months of age, lasting until the age of 10 to 12 before they’re replaced with adult teeth. The first teeth to fall out are usually the first permanent teeth to grow back. In most cases, this is the bottom two.
Parents are advised to begin brushing as soon as the first tooth comes in and to begin flossing as soon as two teeth touch. For the first couple years, only brush with water and a soft, baby toothbrush or fluoride-free toothpaste. During these early brushing stages, you’ll want to be extra careful with your child’s sensitive teeth and gums.
Begin using small amounts of fluoride toothpaste at the age of three, or when recommended by your dentist, but limit these portions until your child is seven. Around this time, it’s safe to start using a fluoride rinse to prevent cavities too.
Protecting your child’s baby teeth will do more than prevent future health concerns. Improper baby teeth care can jeopardize the future of your child’s speech and the alignment of their smile. Both can affect self-confidence as they get older.
Tooth decay in kids is painful and spreads quickly through contaminated saliva. It can easily transfer from baby to adult teeth too. Fortunately, instilling good oral care habits can be easy and fun. If you want to ensure your brushing technique is effective, the below brushing tips can help keep the young smiles in your family healthy and white:
• Let them choose the toothbrush they use and get new ones 3 to 4 times a year.
• Try a few different kinds of toothpaste until you find one they like.
• Use a gentle brushing technique, so when your child starts to brush his/her own teeth, they will hold the toothbrush lightly too.
• Teach your kids it takes time to brush effectively by avoiding brushing teeth in a rush.
• Set a timer or play a song to remind them to brush for full two minutes.
• Teach them to spend time brushing each tooth, every time.
• Circular motions for the front and back and swift forward brushes along the top surfaces.
• Be sure they know their tongue can have bacteria on it too and should be brushed every time. This can help alleviate bad breath.
• Use a new piece of floss for each tooth so you don’t reinsert food and plaque.
• Teach to spit without rinsing so the toothpaste and/or rinse can take full effect.
• Use a points and reward system to encourage brushing twice a day as your child gets older.
Establishing these healthy cleaning habits at a young age is important for both habit forming and health reasons. Kids who use good brushing techniques twice a day from a young age are much more likely to carry those habits into their adult life and might even pass them along to their children. Plus, these habits can prevent oncoming and future oral conditions from developing. Start showing your kids today how fun it can be to keep teeth clean.