It can be an exciting time when children start to develop their first baby teeth and as parents, our first instinct is to make sure these tiny teeth are well cared for. But, knowing what is and isn’t true when it comes to baby teeth can be tricky, as there is a lot of conflicting information out there.
To help you understand what you should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to you child’s first teeth, we’ve compiled a list of common myths to separate the fact from the fiction.
Baby Teeth Don’t Matter
It’s a common misconception that baby teeth aren’t important because they just fall out anyway. While baby teeth aren’t as permanent as adult teeth, your child won’t lose their last baby ones until they’re roughly 10-12 years old.
They’re also important for a number of reasons. For instance, your child’s teeth will help develop the way they speak and eat, which will help to form lifelong habits. It’s also important that your child develops good dental habits by brushing and flossing their teeth and visiting the dentist regularly. If children aren’t taught these habits from a young age, it can be difficult for them to pick them up when their adult teeth start coming in.
Baby teeth are also important in the sense they’re placeholders for adult teeth. This means that healthy teeth will most likely be replaced by healthy teeth, while unhealthy baby teeth could result in weakened adult teeth. For instance, if your child’s tooth rots and they need to get a root canal, the rot in the tooth can damage both the tooth and the gum underneath. If the gum is compromised, there is a risk that the adult tooth will grow into damaged gum, causing problems later in life.
Cavities in Baby Teeth Don’t Matter
Anyone who has ever left a cavity untreated knows first-hand that the painful toothaches that come hand-in-hand with tooth decay is not fun. Not only will a cavity be painful for your child, the dental treatment required to resolve the problem can leave a lasting negative impression on your child.
Children with deep-rooted fear of the dentist often try to avoid going for regular check-ups and getting any mouth-related pain treated, which can be detrimental for their long-term health and well-being.
Plus, dental cavities that aren’t properly treated can spread bacterial infections into your child’s bloodstream, creating a whole host of other general health issues. Regardless of how new or old your child’s teeth are, any cavities or signs of tooth decay should be treated as soon as possible.
You Don’t Need to Brush or Floss Baby Teeth
As mentioned before, good oral hygiene is a habit children develop long before their adult teeth come in. During their formative years of development, it’s essential they be taught the good habits that they will practice well into adulthood.
But good habits aside, brushing and flossing your child’s teeth is the only way to remove the natural build-up of plaque from their teeth. A build-up of plaque can damage the enamel (the protective outer layer on the tooth) on your child’s teeth. When the enamel is worn down, baby teeth will become susceptible to a number of other dental issues, including tooth sensitivity and decay.
As such, you should follow the same dental hygiene routine with your child as you practice yourself – just make sure you use a soft bristle toothbrush that has been designed for smaller teeth.
Young Children Can Brush Their Own Teeth
This is a bit of a grey area. Properly brushing your teeth to remove any plaque and food that has been built up over the day is a task that requires the development of fine motor skills. As such, young children will often need assistance from their parents. Every child will be slightly different in this regard, but it’s safe to say that children under the age of five should always have assistance, and primary school-aged kids should be supervised.
As you can see, baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. This means regular dental visits and a stringent oral hygiene routine is essential from the moment your child gets their first tooth.
To schedule your child’s first dental appointment, or to learn more about caring for your child’s baby teeth, contact the team at Woodvale Dental Centre today!