As parents, we have so many things we need to know and do to care for our children and keep them healthy and safe. And we understand that it can be overwhelming. With young teeth, in particular, there are so many changes in such a short time. From that toothless grin during infancy to the presence of those first few teeth, to when those baby teeth start to fall out, it’s essential to know the steps to take to protect your child’s smile and oral health.

What parents need to know about baby teeth.

As it happens, tooth decay is the number one most prevalent disease in young kids. It’s believed that by the age of five, 60% of children will be impacted in some way by tooth decay. To make matters worse, the rate of tooth decay appears to be on the rise. These are some staggering statistics, which are enough to make any parent worry. For this reason, we have compiled a list of important steps that you can take to help protect your child’s teeth and smile.

What to expect in tooth development from birth through age five.

One of the most common questions that parents ask about tooth development for their children relates to the dental milestones that they can expect along the way. Understanding how to know your child is teething and when they will likely lose their first tooth will help you know if your child’s dental development is on track.

  • Teething can begin in very young infants, and often begins shortly before that first front tooth breaks through the gums. Common signs of teething include drooling, biting, irritability including crying and whining, and refusing to eat. Your baby may also rub at their cheek, pull at their ears, or wake up frequently throughout the night. Know that, in most situations, these are normal symptoms of teething and your baby will feel better after their tooth emerges.
  • Parents often want to know when their baby’s teeth will come in. Some babies see that first tooth around four months of age or sometime before they turn one, but, in most cases, parents can expect that their baby’s first tooth will arrive by the time they are nine months of age.
  • Most kids won’t lose their first tooth until the age of six or seven. However, it isn’t unheard of for a child to lose their tooth during their kindergarten years. As long as your child is receiving proper dental care from their pediatric dentist, this should be nothing to worry about.
  • Some children may show signs that they have a tongue-tie, also referred to as ankyloglossia. Tongue-tie is a congenital developmental condition. Signs of tongue tie include a tongue that can’t extend past the lips or can’t touch the roof of the mouth. In some cases, the tip of the tongue may appear flat or square in shape instead of pointed when the tongue is extended. Also, your baby may not be able to move their tongue sideways to the corner of their mouth. Getting your child in for their first dental visit early on can help alert you to this potential condition, and can help your kid’s dentist determine the right treatment.

Bring your baby in for a dental visit before their first birthday.

As a rule of thumb, it is time to schedule that first dental appointment as soon as your little one sprouts their first tooth, or within six months of that exciting milestone. Getting in to see your dentist early will help protect your child’s very important baby teeth. Even if your child doesn’t have their first tooth and you are wondering when your baby will get teeth, it is important to note that, though many babies start to get their teeth around four months of age, some don’t see them until after 12 months. And, if that first tooth hasn’t popped through the gums by the age of one, then scheduling an appointment with a pediatric dentist or kids’ dentist is highly recommended.

What to expect during your baby’s first dental visit

As your child gets older, their dental visits will become more comprehensive. At the first appointment, however, your pediatric dentist will focus on getting to know you and your child so that a trusting relationship can be built. The more your child gets familiar with the environment in the dentist’s office, the easier future appointments will be.

However, your baby’s first dental appointment is about more than just a meet and greet. During the exam, your kids’ dentist will check your baby’s teeth for tooth decay, examine your child’s mouth and bite, and be on the lookout for potential concerns with the jaw, gums, and oral tissues. If needed, the dental assistant or dentist will clean their teeth and provide fluoride treatment. This first trip to the dentist provides the perfect opportunity for parents to ask any questions that they might have to help set their child up for a lifetime of good oral habits.

The benefits of seeing a board-certified pediatric dentist.

When it comes to choosing a dentist for your child, you should know that not all dentists are the same. When it comes to kids, a pediatric dentist will stand apart from a general dentist. Pediatric dentists take additional training after graduating from dental school to learn how to best treat and maintain the oral health of children from infancy through their teenage years. Training helps prepare dentists to better understand the development of teeth throughout the ages and how to work with children with developmental disabilities.

On top of the unique training that a pediatric dentist will obtain, parents should also seek a dentist who is board certified. A board-certified pediatric dentist will have undergone rigorous testing to show their competence in dentistry for children. This additional training can make a world of difference when it comes to your child feeling comfortable during their visit to the dentist. Pediatric dentists use lasers as appropriate to ensure minimally invasive procedures and for precise interaction with diseased tissue. This means less time for your child in the dental chair, and faster healing.

Ensure your child receives an orthodontic evaluation by age seven.

Many parents who had braces as a kid often didn’t get those braces until sometime during their teenage years. Now, however, the American Association of Orthodontists suggests that children should have their preliminary orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean that orthodontic treatment will need to begin that young, getting in to be seen early can ensure a proper evaluation and can catch any potential abnormalities early on.

Tooth Brushing Basics for Young Children

One of the best ways to care for baby teeth is to start brushing baby teeth as soon as your child’s first tooth pops through the gums. Similar to how you brush your teeth, use a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day. Select a toothbrush that is small and the right size for your child’s mouth. Work up to brushing your child’s teeth for two minutes each time. Parents will need to brush their children’s teeth for them until they are at an age and level of responsibility where they can handle it on their own. In most cases, your child will be ready to brush their own teeth around the age of six.

Flossing daily and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash is also an important part of your child’s oral care routine. As with brushing, parents should help their child to floss their teeth daily. With mouthwash, however, it is important to stick to a non-fluoridated, alcohol-free mouthwash until after your child can safely swish and spit out the rinse. There are several kid-friendly mouthwashes on the market that are safe for children to use at young ages before they are ready for a fluoride rinse.

Let Dr. Jaynes and the team help with your child’s pediatric dental needs.

At Dr. Jaynes, we love to meet kids and help set them on the path to good oral hygiene. Be sure to request an appointment for your child using our easy-to-use online form. We look forward to seeing you and your child.