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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are baby teeth important?
When should I take my child to see the dentist?
When will my baby start getting teeth?
Can babies get cavities?
How should I help take care of my child's teeth?
What are sealants?
How does fluoride help to prevent cavities?
Is water fluoridation safe?

Why are baby teeth important?

1.Healthy primary teeth enable children to chew food properly and help maintain good nutrition.

2.Primary teeth act as placeholders in the jaw for the development of the permanent teeth.They provide spacing and guide permanent teeth into the correct position.

3.They allow good pronunciation and speech habits.

4.They help children feel good about their looks to others. When primary teeth are lost too early, the space that is left should be maintained by a space maintainer to ensure enough room for the permanent teeth to erupt.

When should I take my child to see the dentist?

Historically, parents have been advised to take their children to the dentist for their first visit around 3 years of age. Unfortunately, tooth decay does occur in children under the age of 3. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that an initial oral evaluation visit occurs within six months of the eruption of the first primary tooth and no later than twelve months of age.

When will my baby start getting teeth?

Usually the two lower front teeth (central incisors) erupt at about six months of age, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. During the next 18 to 24 months, the rest of the baby teeth appear, although not in orderly sequence from front to back. All of these 20 primary teeth should be present at 2 to 3 years of age. However, there is a normal range and these are averages. Some children get their teeth earlier and some later.

Can babies get cavities?

Yes. As soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur. The major cause of tooth decay in infants is improper use of the bottle. This condition (Baby Bottle Tooth Decay) can occur when an infant is allowed to nurse continuously with a bottle of milk, formula or sugary drinks as fruit juices during naps or at night. These liquids will "pool" around the child's teeth during sleep, allowing the teeth to be attacked by acids for long periods of time, resulting in significant tooth decay.

Each time your child drinks these liquids, acids attack for 20 minutes or longer. Frequent attacks eventually break down the enamel. It is not just what you put in your child's bottle that causes decay, but how often and for how long. Giving your child a bottle of sweetened liquid many times a day is not a good idea. Allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle during naps or at night can be the most harmful.

Good oral hygiene habits along with discontinuing the bottle by age 12 months can prevent this source of dental disease.

How should I help take care of my child's teeth?

Start oral health care early. Wipe your infant's gums with a soft wet washcloth. This will allow them to be familiar with regular oral care. After the first teeth appear, about 6 months after birth, daily brushing should begin. A non-fluoridated toothpaste should be used until your child learns how to rinse and spit. A pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it.

Parents must be responsible for making sure their children's teeth are clean until the child is about 8 years old. Studies have shown that children do not have the manual dexterity or the ability to brush their own teeth to prevent tooth decay until that age.

Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. It can be as early as 3 years old! You should floss the child's teeth until he or she can do it alone.

What are sealants?

A sealant is a resin material that is placed on the chewing surfaces, which acts as a barrier against decay. Typically, posterior teeth have deep grooves that are impossible to keep clean. Bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach them. As you eat, food and bacteria get stuck and settle into these grooves. The bacteria then produce a harmful acid which in turn causes cavities.

How does fluoride help to prevent cavities?

Fluoride helps to prevent decay by making our teeth more resistant to the harmful acid that is produced by bacteria left over from food particles. By brushing regularly with fluoridated toothpaste, and receiving routine fluoride treatments from the dentist, tooth enamel can become stronger and more resistant to the acid that causes tooth decay. You may begin to introduce fluoride toothpaste to your child once they have learned to spit which is around 3 years old. Make sure they are always supervised to ensure they are using no more than a pea-size amount.

Is water fluoridation safe?

Fluorides have been the most effective method of preventing tooth decay. Scientists have discovered that people have less tooth decay if their drinking water contains fluoride. Because teeth form during childhood, the fluoride becomes part of the tooth enamel, making teeth stronger and more resistant to decay. Research and studies have concluded that the maintenance of fluoride level in drinking water at approximately 1mg/ L (1 part per million) is the most efficient and effective procedure to decrease the incidence of dental caries. Children living in non-fluoridated areas should be evaluated for the need for supplemental fluoride tablets or drops. If needed, fluoride supplements are recommended between 6 months to 16 years of age.

Pediatric Dentistry Indiana Dentist.

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