Oral Health for Children; Children’s Dental Health Month
Can you believe it is already February? It is Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long national health observance was initiated by the American Dental Association (ADA). It is intended to bring together dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others. Parents and caregivers are often very busy, but oral health cannot be overlooked.
Let us discover why baby teeth are important and how we can maintain healthy teeth during the transition to adult teeth.
Some parents may wonder why baby teeth are important. Baby teeth allow children to chew their food, assist with speech development, and they save a space for the incoming adult teeth. If the baby tooth is lost too soon, this can affect the development of the jaw and the remaining teeth will start to shift. This prevents the jaw from having enough space for the adult teeth to properly erupt into an optimal bite, which could possibly require orthodontic intervention. Regular professional dental visits will allow you to receive expert advice on how to proceed if your child does lose a baby tooth prematurely.
Although we call the first set of teeth “baby teeth”, children do not lose their last baby tooth until approximately 10 to 12 years old. As you can see, “baby teeth” are essential beyond those initial first few years of life. The first baby tooth starts to come in around 6 months old and baby teeth continue to erupt until about 2 ½ to 3 years old. Children continue to lose baby teeth and gain adult teeth until approximately 12 years old, with wisdom teeth erupting after adolescence. The new adult teeth need to last a lifetime, so establishing healthy oral habits at a young age will encourage continued lifelong healthy habits.
The transition between new teeth and wiggly teeth that will eventually fall out means a child’s mouth may feel sore. When something is sore, we tend to be more cautious or shy away from caring for those areas. This may leave bacteria behind. Gentle brushing is essential during this transitional time. Parents and caregivers be sure to check teeth for plaque and help clean these areas thoroughly, so their new, incoming teeth do not suffer. Children with cavities in their baby teeth increases the risk of cavities in their adult teeth.
Now that we know the importance of healthy baby teeth and what to expect during eruption, stay informed in the coming weeks on preventing cavities and how to maintain your child’s beautiful teeth.