Children are a precious gift. An early start in regular dental care is an important step on the road to good health. Pediatric dentists recommend that children begin routine visits by age one so that any problems may be detected, treated early, or even avoided completely.
Begin daily brushing as soon as the child's first tooth erupts. A pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. By age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with supervision until about age seven to make sure they are doing a thorough job. However, each child is different. Your dentist can help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly.
Primary Teeth are Important
It is very important to maintain the health of primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth, or baby-teeth are important to (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
One serious form of tooth decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposure of an infant's teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice, and other sweetened drinks. Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. After each feeding, wipe the baby's gum and teeth with a damp cloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place the child's head in you lap or the lay the child on a dressing table. Whatever position you use, be sure that you can see into the child's mouth easily.