Your child won’t keep his or her baby teeth forever, but those little mouths still need extra special care and attention. As a dentist who treats children, Dr. Brumbach focuses on preventative care to help each child grow a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.
Primary teeth, or what we refer to commonly as “baby” teeth, serve as placeholders for the eruption of permanent, adult teeth. The tops of the permanent teeth push against the roots of the baby teeth, causing them to come loose and eventually fall out. Once the baby teeth fall out, the adult teeth can erupt into their permanent placement.
Typically, baby teeth start to appear between six and nine months, though in some cases they may come in as early as three months or as late as twelve months. The two bottom front teeth usually appear first, followed by the two upper front teeth. Next are the molars, and eventually the canines. Sometimes your baby can experience teething pains throughout this process, also referred to as “teething.” If so, contact us and we will help you with finding a solution for pain relief.
Caring for Baby Teeth
Children’s newly emerged teeth and gums should be wiped gently after each meal. It is best to use a damp washcloth or wet gauze pad. Start a daily brushing routine by age 2, using a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and no more than a pea-size amount of toothpaste. We recommend using fluoride-free toothpaste until your child is able to completely spit out the toothpaste. Until then, we suggest using a fluoride supplement. Your child will need your help with brushing in their most formative years. We usually suggest that children start brushing on their own by age 6, with adult supervision.
Your child’s primary (baby) teeth will be present for most of their childhood. For the first six years, he or she will be relying exclusively on primary teeth to help them chew and speak. At age 6, the first adult teeth start to erupt. The lower central incisors are the first to erupt and push out the baby teeth. They usually come in around the same time as the first permanent molars. The rest of the baby teeth in the front (incisors) will continue to be replaced over the next few years. Your child will have a mix of primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth until around age 12. Every child’s eruption timeline is different; some get teeth and lose teeth later or earlier than average. The pattern, however, is usually the same for most children.
Your Child’s First Dental Appointment
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you bring your child in to see a dentist by his/her first birthday. That may seem premature, but we use these visits to show the parent proper pediatric oral hygiene techniques, check for cavities, and keep an eye out for developmental problems that could give your child issues further down the road.
Babies and small children are susceptible to various forms of tooth decay. For example, Early Childhood Caries (ECC), also known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD), is a preventable, infectious disease caused by certain types of bacteria that live in the mouths of young children. This is just one of the forms of tooth decay that we check for at each visit. We also give you helpful tips on how to prevent diseases such as these and care for your young child’s teeth. Our goal is to make sure your children have a fun and safe experience with us each and every time they visit!
Pediatric Dental Treatments
We provide several treatments to help prevent the various forms of tooth decay in children. We also provide treatments to save or repair their teeth, if necessary. These treatments include:
— Fluoride helps protect teeth by making them harder and more resistant to tooth decay. Even though our toothpastes contain a trace amount of fluoride, our water supply in North Idaho does not. In our office, we use a higher-concentrated topical fluoride to apply to your child’s teeth for even more powerful protection from tooth decay. If desired, we also prescribe fluoride supplements to take in the formative years.
— Our back teeth have little grooves on the chewing surfaces known as pits and fissures. These little indentations are the perfect place for bacteria to grow and live. In order to prevent cavities, we apply a plastic coating on top of these grooves, known as a dental sealant. Children’s tooth enamel is still developing, making it more permeable and susceptible to bacteria. Dental sealants are easy, pain-free, and can provide long-term defense against harmful bacteria and cavities.
— Children may have accidents that result in tooth chips and small cracks. Luckily, there are easy fixes for these kinds of mishaps. Chips and cracks can be repaired with natural-looking bonding materials that are matched to the color of your child’s teeth. These materials, made from glass and plastics, also are used for fillings in the event of decay.
— Children, in some cases, may require a root canal treatment. We utilize root canals to assist in preventing premature tooth loss, and save your child from developing a malocclusion, or “bad bite,” that would require advanced dental work or orthodontics in the future. We can determine the need for a root canal by looking at the permanent teeth that are already forming underneath the gums.
Typically, malocclusions (poor bite) have become evident by the time your child reaches the age of 7. During these formative years, Dr. Brumbach is routinely examining your child’s teeth in order to determine if preclusive orthodontic treatment is needed. Early detection is extremely important, as we can use preclusive orthodontic treatment to correct tooth positioning and jaw growth to help aid in, or even eliminate, future orthodontic treatment.
Sports & Your Child’s Teeth
Mouthguards have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of mouth-related injuries in athletes. If your child participates in sports and athletics, we recommend having a custom mouthguard made in our office. We use a mold of his or her own teeth to form the mouthguard, making it a better option than a one-size-fits-all mouthguard from the store. The upfront investment can pay for itself – saving your child from pain and suffering, and saving your wallet from potential dental expenses in the future.
We are always here to help you with any questions you have regarding your child’s oral health and safety. Call 208-777-1222 to schedule your child’s next visit with Dr. Brumbach!