Your oral health begins before you are even born. From before birth, to teething, to beginning dental care for your child, taking care of your child’s teeth is an important part of oral development. Understanding the various stages of childhood dental care will help you efficiently monitor your child’s teeth and help prevent future issues. A baby’s teeth begin to form before they are born, so eating a balanced and nutritious diet is important as an expecting mother. Make sure to get an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals and take care of your own teeth by having a complete dental exam.

From Birth to 12 Months The teeth your child is born with are called primary teeth, which usually begin to break through the gums around the age of 6 months. All of the primary teeth should come in between 6 months and 3 years, while the loss of primary teeth usually occurs between the ages of 6 and 11.

After 6 months from a baby’s birth, a doctor should assess the likelihood of future dental problems. Your doctor may begin by examining the mother’s teeth, as the condition of her teeth often predicts her child’s teeth. If the doctor does think the child will have dental issues, make sure you bring your child back by the end of their first birthday or 6 months after the primary teeth appear. Begin cleaning your baby’s teeth with a soft cloth or gauze pad as soon as the teeth come in. As more teeth show, use a soft toothbrush; and as soon as the teeth touch each other, you can begin flossing for your child.

After 12 Months Experts recommend that your child start regular dental care after 12 months. Developing healthy oral care habits from the start will ensure that your child is on the right track by the time their permanent teeth have come in. Here are some important steps to take:

  • Parents or caregivers often share utensils with babies, and the saliva you may share could contain tooth-decay-causing bacteria. Keeping your own teeth and gums healthy reduce the risk of transferring bacteria.

  • Do not put your child to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, formula, or other sugary drinks because the sugar and acids can cause tooth decay. Encourage your baby to start drinking from a cup around the age of 4 to 6 months.

  • Discuss your child’s fluoride needs with your dentist. If your child needs extra fluoride, your dentist may recommend supplements.

  • Feed your child healthy foods to maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth decay, including whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Avoid foods high in sugar and processed carbs, such as pastries and white bread.

  • Learn how to prevent any injuries when children are playing and what to do in the case of a dental emergency.

  • Encourage your child to stop sucking their thumb, and see your dentist if you can’t get them to stop.

  • Brush your child’s teeth for the first several years, or until they can do it themselves.

Brushing and Flossing Once your child can brush their own teeth, keep their healthy habits in check by showing them how to brush in the mornings and then have them do it at night to practice the right way. Give them a smaller toothbrush, and apply fluoride toothpaste in a pea size amount. Using flossing tools may help with flossing until they can eventually use regular floss. Talk with us about the right timing and technique to floss your child’s teeth and teaching them to floss.

To really ensure proper brushing, use disclosing tablets every once in a while to see whether any plaque is left on their teeth after they brush. You can buy disclosing tablets at most drugstores. Do you have any other concerns about taking care of your child’s teeth? Let us know by giving us a call and setting up an appointment.