School is starting soon, you’ve got your lists in hand, and now you’re busy buying up clothes, supplies, and sports gear. Whether you’ve got a toddler heading off for nursery school or a middle-school child, this is a good time to think about dental care.
You may wonder what dental health has to do with school preparation. Of course you already know that healthy teeth are essential for their overall well-being. But it’s important to remember that unhealthy teeth lead to unnecessary discomfort for your child and school days lost.
Starting Them off Right
If you’re a new parent, you probably have many questions about how to care for your child's teeth. It’s a little too early to be thinking about school days, but it’s never too early to start managing your child’s oral health care.
At Deep River Dentistry, we recommend that children have their first dental exam within six months of their first tooth erupting, but no later than one year of age. What’s so important about taking care of baby teeth, you ask?
You already know that children have two sets of teeth. Primary teeth are temporary and begin to emerge between six and twelve months. These are then replaced by permanent teeth, usually starting around six years of age.
Primary teeth maintain the spacing of your child's teeth so that permanent teeth have room to erupt normally. If your child develops a cavity or infection and loses a primary tooth before the permanent tooth is ready to emerge, nearby teeth could drift into the space and close it. This then causes the permanent tooth to grow in crooked because it doesn't have enough room on the gum line.
What to Do, and When to Do It
Here are some basic guidelines to help you care your child’s teeth at every age:
- Clean your child's teeth twice a day after their first tooth appears.
- Before your child is one year old, gently clean your child's teeth and gums with wet gauze or a washcloth.
- Between the ages of 12 and 18 months you can use a soft baby toothbrush with a small dab of fluoride-free toothpaste to clean your child's teeth and gums. Fluoride-free toothpaste is not harmful for your baby to swallow
- Once your child turns two, you can start to use a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste to clean their teeth. Make sure to supervise your child so they don't ingest large quantities of fluoride toothpaste.
- Around the age of seven, children can brush their teeth with adult toothpaste without supervision, provided that they are able to brush without swallowing toothpaste.
This is a general timeline to help you care for your child's teeth. The most important thing, however, is to schedule an appointment for your child at our High Point dental office. We will help you understand what your child needs to maintain a healthy mouth and adorable smile!