Pediatric DentistIt is a huge moment when that first tiny tooth pokes through your child’s gums, and you probably couldn’t feel prouder at this important milestone. This is the ideal time to begin taking care of your child’s baby teeth or primary teeth. However, unfortunately, many parents fail to recognize the importance of their child’s first teeth and don’t fully understand why early pediatric dental care1 is so crucial. When you look after your kid’s primary teeth, it provides health benefits that will last well into adulthood.

Why You Must Look after Your Child’s Primary Teeth

Your child’s primary teeth may only last a few years, but these years are vital because your child will be learning to speak clearly and to bite and chew food.

It’s Tricky to Speak without Teeth

It is difficult enough for adults without teeth to speak properly, and so they can be understood. Imagine how tricky it would be for a child who is only just learning how to talk! Also, when a child can’t communicate properly, it can be frustrating.

Food Choices Are Limited, Affecting Overall Nutrition

Now, think about how essential teeth are when enjoying a meal. Lots of nutritious foods are crunchy or require quite a lot of chewing but are necessary because they contain important vitamins and minerals needed for adequate growth and development. If a child were to lose their baby teeth too soon or develops problems with painful tooth decay and tooth infections, they might be unable to eat a nutritious diet comfortably, significantly affecting these critical years when a child is growing and developing quite rapidly.

Your Child May Miss School Because of Dental Problems

A child with dental problems will almost certainly be in pain, and this can affect their concentration at school. They might need to miss quite a bit of school time because of extended dental visits or because they aren’t well enough to go to school.

Primary Teeth Are Needed to Guide the Development of Adult Teeth

Primary teeth help to guide the growth and development of adult teeth. These teeth act as “placeholders” for the adult teeth, ensuring the right amount of room in the jaw is maintained until the adult teeth are ready to erupt. When baby teeth are lost too soon, the teeth adjacent to the gap can begin to drift towards the empty space. When the adult teeth do try to push through, insufficient room may lead to them erupting out of alignment or coming through crooked. As a result, the need for orthodontics is greatly increased.

What to Do When Your Child’s Primary Teeth Push through

Usually, a child’s baby teeth will begin to appear from six months onwards, although these teeth can appear earlier or later. As soon they begin to erupt, you need to start cleaning them using a damp washcloth or clean piece of damp gauze to wipe them gently after each feeding. Ideally, it’s best to begin wiping your infant’s gums after feeding and before they even get their first teeth. This helps to keep their mouth clean and gets them used to the sensation of having their mouth gently cleaned. By age 2, your child will probably have quite a few teeth, and it’s time to begin brushing them gently with a small, soft-bristled baby toothbrush. You only need a smear of fluoridated toothpaste because your child will probably lack the ability to spit out any excess paste. You’ll need to continue brushing your child’s teeth for them until about age 6 or seven and must continue flossing their teeth until about age 10 when they have developed enough dexterity for this task.

When Should a Child See a Dentist and Why?

The answer might surprise you as your child should have their first dental appointment by age 1 or soon after they get their very first teeth. Many parents are surprised a dental visit is necessary when a child is still so young, but there are several significant benefits in seeing a dentist at this age.

The First Dental Visit

Initially, the first dental visit is merely a quick and extremely gentle examination, where we will look inside their mouth. It is, however, a crucial appointment because we can talk to you about how to look after their teeth, teaching you the correct way to clean them thoroughly. Dental education is a crucial part of our practice and using the right hygiene techniques from the very beginning can make all the difference to your child’s dental health. Dr. Loud a family dentist in Shreveport, LA adds, "Our ultimate goal during pediatric dental exams is to screen for developing issues that may impact your child’s health, speech, diet, and orofacial anatomy."

Checking for Signs of Cavities

As your child gets more teeth, we will continue monitoring them for any signs of cavities because there is a condition called Early Childhood Caries, a form of tooth decay that can develop rapidly. It’s vital that we detect any signs of problems early on so we can give the appropriate treatment before your child is in discomfort or pain. We can also provide some procedures that will help avoid tooth decay such as topical applications of fluoride to harden tooth enamel, and dental sealants to seal the chewing surfaces of back teeth. These chewing surfaces are particularly vulnerable to tooth decay, and dental sealants are an excellent treatment for keeping these teeth healthy and free from cavities. Regular dental visits also allow us to check the development of your child’s teeth and jaws.

Checking Your Child’s Oral Growth and Development

If needed, we can refer them for an early orthodontic evaluation by age 6 or seven, and this can be especially useful if your child has any oral habits such as finger or thumb sucking that may have affected jaw development. Sometimes early orthodontic therapy can correct these problems, alleviating or reducing the need for orthodontic care when they are older.

We Are a Family-Oriented Dental Clinic

Here at McLoughlin Dental2 we love seeing young children, and our dentist Dr. Donald Nimz is exceptionally gentle when examining a young child’s mouth. We do everything possible to make sure young children feel relaxed because we want to ensure that every visit is a positive experience. When a child grows up seeing dental visits as merely routine and nothing to fear, they are far more likely to enjoy all the benefits of excellent dental health for life.