Did you know February is Children’s Dental Health Month? Children’s Dental Health Month is designed to encourage parents to take proper care of their children’s teeth, as well as to raise awareness of how common cavities are in young children.
Children are susceptible to tooth decay as soon as they have teeth, and over 45% of children between the ages of 2-9 have cavities . So why are baby teeth so important, and how can you take the best care of your child’s teeth to prevent oral health problems?
Why Baby Teeth Are So Important
Baby teeth are designed to do more than make your baby look cute! Those pearly whites are there to help your child properly chew their food and pronounce their words, both important functions in your child’s development .
Primary teeth also have another crucial role: they act as placeholders for the adult teeth that will eventually emerge. Children lose their baby teeth when the permanent teeth are ready to emerge through the gumline.
If your child loses a baby tooth too soon, it could affect the alignment of their permanent teeth, causing the remaining baby teeth to shift into the gap and leading the adult teeth to come in crooked.
Best Practices for Your Children’s Oral Health
Now that we know why baby teeth are so important, what are some best practices to know when taking care of your child’s oral health?
- Start early. You can begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as that first baby tooth
emerges, and you can begin flossing as soon as your baby has two teeth that touch.
Your baby should also have their first dental visit around their first birthday.
- Encourage healthy eating. Limit added sugar as much as possible for your child, as added sugar can increase your child’s risk for cavities .
- Keep regular dental appointments. Your child’s regular dental visits will help keep their smile healthy and encourage proper oral care habits.
- Monitor brushing. It’s a good idea to monitor your child’s brushing, even if they’re old
enough to brush on their own, until around age seven.
- Don’t forget a mouthguard. If your child plays any kind of contact sport, such as football, lacrosse, or even soccer, it’s important to have a mouthguard to protect their smile and prevent trauma to the teeth and gums.
If your child uses a bottle, it’s also important to never let your child constantly suck on a bottle or to go to bed with a bottle, as this can accelerate tooth decay (often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay).
Visit Your Dentist!
Your dentist is an essential part of your child’s oral health routine. Your dentist can detect oral health problems, encourage good dental care habits, and keep your child’s smile healthy .
Your dentist can also answer any questions you may have about your child’s oral care. When was the last time your child saw the dentist? Contact your local pediatric dentist to help take care of your child’s smile for Children’s Dental Health Month!