As a parent, you have to look out for the health of your child – and that includes their oral health. It is important to begin this process for your child when they are just a baby. Dental health for kids becomes something to monitor as soon as their teeth start coming in.
Every child is different, but teeth usually start coming in six months after they are born. If your child’s teeth come in earlier or a little later (12 months after birth), that isn’t a big concern. There is variation in the development of different people as can be expected.
A complete set of baby teeth is made up of 20 teeth and they will usually all have appeared around the age of 3. Baby teeth will begin to come out around the age of 5-6 in most cases. By the time your child is in their teens, most, if not all of their baby teeth will be gone.
Adults have 32 teeth – and they will usually all come in by the age of 20.
Dental health should be a priority
Cavities are a major problem for children in the US. Failing to address tooth decay can result in infection, pain and a variety of other significant problems. Consider the following information from the CDC:
- 13% of adolescent children have at least one untreated tooth with a cavity.
- 20% of kids between the ages of 5-11 years old have at least one untreated tooth cavity.
- Children between the ages of 5-19, who come from lower income households, are more than twice as likely to have cavities than children from households with higher income.
Great dental health for kids starts with oral hygiene
Proper oral hygiene includes brushing (twice) and flossing every day. Using toothpaste with fluoride will help to reduce the occurrence of tooth decay.
Additionally, regular visits with a kids dentist or pediatric dentist are important. A dentist who specializes in treating children will be able to help you get proper treatment. He can also refer you to an orthodontist if he thinks your child needs braces. There are different benchmarks and things to look for in kids depending on their age. That is why a dentist who treats a lot of children will be important to seek out.
When should you take your child to the dentist
It is recommended that you take your child to the dentist starting at 6 months. If their teeth have not yet come in at that time, you can wait for up to 12 months of age or so.
At that time, the dentist may provide you with details regarding:
- Tooth decay and bottle feeding
- Finger sucking and pacifier use
- Cleaning your child’s teeth
How to help my infant with oral hygiene
While your infant may not have teeth, there are still many things you can do to help them maintain healthy gums and a clean mouth. Here are some things you can do:
- Swab your child’s mouth out with a damp washcloth after meals
- Start using a soft bristle toothbrush as soon as their first tooth appears
- Do not send your child to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice
Your child’s oral hygiene
Now that your child is a little older and has more teeth, there is an increased need to keep up on their oral hygiene. As a parent, you should supervise the following:
- Teach your child how to brush on their own, and do it for them until they are able to do it properly for themselves
- Make sure your child is brushing at least twice a day, and especially at night before bed
- Teach your children how to floss and make sure that they do so every day
- Take your child to the dentist every 6 months and communicate with your child’s dentist about their needs and concerns
- If needed, seek out orthodontic treatment in order to improve their oral health and ability to maintain oral hygiene
Consequences of poor dental health for kids
If you don’t teach your child how to properly care for their own dental health it will almost certainly create problems for them that will last them the rest of their life. Tooth decay can and should be prevented. However, it is up to you as the parent to ensure that they do not suffer from these possible consequences:
- Difficulty speaking and development of speech
- Premature loss of baby teeth
- Loss of adult teeth
- Bone loss
- Bite issues
- Harmful infections