Most babies are not born with teeth in their mouths; however, some babies do have a primary tooth already erupted in the mouth at birth. Whenever the primary teeth grow into the mouth, they need cleaning. Babies are born with no bacteria in their mouths, but as they grow, germs are introduced into the mouth in different ways.
A parent/caregiver should use gauze to swab off any milk or formula from a young baby's teeth. Sugars in liquids and foods mix with bacteria in the mouth to form acid on teeth. Acid attacks the hard outer covering of a tooth called enamel. Over time without treatment, holes in the enamel continue to grow, damaging the next layer of the tooth, the dentin. With further damage, infection and pain result, along with possible tooth loss.
Primary teeth have important functions in the mouth, so they need attention and protection.
*Primary teeth are the only teeth in a dentition until at least age 6 years old when permanent teeth start to grow. During this time the primary (baby) teeth help a child chew foods that provide nutrition for growth and development.
*Primary teeth are needed in the mouth to provide help for good speech to happen.
*Primary teeth support the shape of the mouth as the child grows and has a nice smile.
*The 20 primary teeth save a place in line for the permanent teeth that will grow into the spaces that have been saved for them. Eventually all the primary teeth will loosen and be
replaced by incisors, cuspids, and premolars. At around age 6 years, the first permanent molars (6 year molars) grow in behind the primary molars in their very own spaces.
Parents need to provide guidance for the child to learn healthy habits for good dental care.
*Help with and then observe toothbrushing every morning and night in order to make sure children are getting teeth clean and plaque removed.
*Show children how to carefully floss the "in between" sides of teeth to effectively remove plaque, but not cut the gingiva (gum) around each tooth.
*Provide nutritious foods for children to grow and develop into healthy adults.
*Limit snacks and beverages that have sugar as a main ingredient. Too many acid attacks on the teeth promote caries (cavities).
*Establish a dental home for young children to visit a dentist at least 2 times a year. Routine exams, cleanings, and fluoride treatments help protect primary and permanent teeth
*Ask your child's doctor if they practice "putting the mouth back in the head" when going to the doctor for a well child visit. Some doctors have started providing a short dental exam
and applying fluoride varnish to young children's teeth at these visits. From an early start, this helps a baby and young child learn how to adapt to someone looking in their
mouths and painting their teeth with this preventative treatment. Fluoride helps harden enamel to make it more resistant to acid attacks that create cavities and tooth loss.
*When participating in sports, children should wear mouth guards to protect teeth from damage.
*A healthy dentition is something to strive for throughout life.
*Your teeth can last a lifetime if they are well cared for from the start.
To learn more about good dental health, read on: