Did You Know That Baby Teeth Need Dental Care?
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month! As a dentist and a father, I know firsthand how important dental care is for the youngest patients. I urge all my parents to introduce their children to the dental office as soon as possible. Here’s why:
A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth. Those baby teeth that begin coming through the gums around 6 months help set the stage for future smiles by keeping space in the jaw for adult teeth. Pediatric dentists recommend that parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday.
Here’s what you can do at home to start healthy habits with children’s dental care:
- Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily.
- For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children brushing teeth to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
- For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
All parents want their children to have a healthy smile. Start early with their dental checkups. Help them get to know their dentist and feel comfortable during the regular visits. Ask for advice on any problems you are having with the brushing and flossing home care.
Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric dentistry in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. Dr. Halim and his staff can help parents and young children get started on healthy oral care habits at home. Schedule an appointment and learn about our Sights and Sounds program for children.