Parents have a lot of questions and concerns about caring for their children’s teeth, especially from the ages of 0 to 5. We’ve gathered answers to some frequent questions here, as well as some additional resources to help you understand and care for your child’s teeth. Be sure to call us at 605.332.4751 or contact us with any questions you may have—we’re happy to help!
Tooth Eruption Chart
Parents often ask us when they can expect their child’s teeth to emerge (or “erupt”), and what order the teeth will erupt. Here’s a chart resource you can use to see when to expect various teeth to emerge.
Starting shortly after birth, it’s important to gently clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as teeth begin to emerge, start brushing twice daily using flouridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush. Only a small amount of toothpaste is necessary for children under the age of 2, and all children should be taught to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing. Remember, young children do not yet have the ability to brush effectively by themselves, so assisting them will both ensure their teeth are cleaned and help them learn effective ways to brush their teeth. Teaching consistent brushing habits to young children is a vital part of building healthy dental habits for a lifetime!
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Many people are unaware of a dental condition known as “baby bottle tooth decay.” Serious harm can come to a baby’s teeth when bottles filled with juice, milk, or formula are allowed to sit in a baby’s mouth for a long period of time. This can often happen when a baby is put to bed with a bottle. If you bottle feed, be sure to remove the bottle when your baby falls asleep. Drinking juice from a bottle should also be avoided, and children should be weaned from bottle usage at 12 to 14 months of age.
Thumb & Finger Sucking
Thumb sucking is a very normal activity for infant—most children who suck their thumbs stop on their own by the age of 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems for your child. If your child is still sucking their thumb by the age of 3, talk to a doctor at Sensational Smiles about ideas or resources to help your child wean off of thumb sucking.
Babies & Teething
Between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, your child will have phases of tooth growth and emergence. During these phases, their gums will often be tender and a little sore. Babies who are teething often drool more and have a desire to chew on harder objects to relieve the tender feelings. You can help your child by vigorously massaging the area for a few minutes or allowing them to chew on a smooth, hard teething ring or cold washcloth. While most children do not need teething gels or Tylenol to address the discomfort that comes with teething, you can use these products as necessary. Talk to a doctor at Sensational Smiles if you have any additional questions about children and teething.
Fluoride for Kids
Tooth decay can occur when plaque (a sticky bacteria film that accumulates on teeth) breaks down food sugar on your teeth. This process produces damaging acids that dissolve the hard enamel surface of teeth. If this damage is not prevented, stopped, or treated, the bacteria can penetrate through the enamel and cause tooth decay. This tooth decay often results in cavities. Cavities weaken teeth and can lead to pain, tooth loss, and even widespread infection.
Fluoride combats tooth decay in two important ways:
When fluoride is ingested, it is absorbed into the structure of developing teeth. Fluoride can then prevent the acid from dissolving tooth enamel.
Fluoride allows teeth that have already been damaged by the acid to repair themselves. Fluoride cannot repair cavities, but it can reverse low levels of tooth decay before they lead to cavities.
Fluoride is an important way parents can help ensure their children’s teeth are protected from tooth decay and cavities. The doctors at Sensational Smiles can help ensure you know the proper type and amount of fluoride you should use with your child based on age, size, and an examination of their teeth.