Caring for your child’s teeth

If baby teeth fall out after a couple of years, why is it important to care for them?

While it’s true that primary teeth are only in the mouth a short period of time, they play a vital role in the following ways:

  • They reserve space for their permanent counterparts.
  • They give the face its normal appearance.
  • They aid in the development of clear speech.
  • They help attain good nutrition. (Missing or decayed teeth make it difficult to chew causing children to reject food.)
  • They help give a health start to permanent teeth. (Infection from decayed baby teeth can damage the permanent
    teeth developing under them.)

How should I care for my baby’s teeth?

While it’s true that primary teeth are only in the mouth a short period of time, they play a vital role in the following ways:

  • Clean your baby’s gums daily by wiping them with a damp rag or cloth, removing bacteria and food particles from the gums.
  • Once teeth start to develop, place a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on a damp rag or cloth, and gently clean your baby’s teeth.
  • Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. Babies who sleep with a bottle of milk, baby formula, fruit juice, or other drink can develop severe tooth decay. If you must put your baby to bed with a bottle, fill it with cool water.

How should I care for my toddler’s teeth?

Toddler age is a good time to begin teaching your child how to brush his or her own teeth. Let your child imitate how you brush your teeth or try brushing each other’s teeth. Help your child brush so you can remove food particles he or she may have missed.

How can I prevent my child from getting cavities?

  • Limit how much candy, sugary foods, and snacks your child eats. Sugary and sticky food attracts bacteria, which can cause cavities.
  • Brush your child’s teeth after every meal.
  • Be sure to brush your child’s teeth after giving him or her medicine.
  • Help your child develop good eating habits. Choose a variety of healthy foods for family meals. Be sure to include
    good sources of calcium.
  • Avoid giving your child sugary drinks such as soda pop.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. Your child should have his or her first dental visit at about age one. Getting regular dental
    checkups will also help prevent dental problems. (Have X-rays taken only when needed.)
  • Have your child’s teeth professionally cleaned after he or she is at least two years old.