Birth to 3 years old
The 20 baby teeth that will erupt during the first three years of your baby’s life are important for chewing, speaking and appearance. They also hold space in the jaws for upcoming adult teeth. Even though they fall out, your child’s baby teeth are important, and you should take good care of them.
Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth after every feeding by wiping your baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or a soft washcloth. This removes plaque and food, and helps your baby become used to having its gums and teeth cleaned – and it will make tooth brushing easier later on.
Brush the teeth of kids over age 2 with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure they spit out excess toothpaste afterward.
Your child’s baby teeth are at risk for decay as soon as they show up – usually around age 6 months. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers usually occurs in the upper front teeth, but it can also occur in other teeth.
It’s also important to put your baby to bed WITHOUT a bottle. Sugary liquids from a bottle pool around the teeth while the child sleeps. Bacteria in the mouth use these sugars as food. They then produce acids that attack the teeth. Each time your child drinks these liquids, acids attack for 20 minutes or longer. After these attacks, the teeth can decay.
Pacifiers dipped in sugar, honey or sweetened liquids can also lead to tooth decay since the sugar or honey can provide food for the bacteria’s acid attacks.
3-6 Years Old
Once again, you can protect your child’s teeth by brushing for 2 minutes, 2 times a day with a fluoride toothpaste and make sure they spit out excess toothpaste afterward.
Sucking is natural for babies. Whether it’s their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects, sucking helps babies feel secure and happy. Young children may also suck to soothe themselves, but the habit should be broken no later than age 3 to prevent damage to teeth and to allow the jaws to develop normally. After your child’s permanent adult teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of their mouth and teeth alignment. Using pacifiers at a later age can be as much of a problem as sucking fingers and thumbs, but it’s usually an easier habit to break.
6-12 Years Old
From around ages 6 – 12, children gradually lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth start to appear. The first adult teeth to come in are molars. These first molars are important because they help shape your child’s face and affect the position and health of the other adult teeth that are about to arrive. Your dentist may recommend sealants for your child’s molars. Sealants are a protective coating that is bonded to the pits and grooves of the molar where decay is most likely to occur. Sealants are very effective in preventing tooth decay on the biting surfaces of the molar teeth.
Brush your children’s teeth until they are able to do so themselves, usually around age 8. Then, supervise their brushing to make sure they brush thoroughly.
During this period, your dentist should look for crowding, crossbites, and/or developmental jaw problems and may recommend early orthodontic treatment or may advise waiting until all of the permanent teeth erupt for braces.
12-17 Years Old
Cavities aren’t just for little kids—you can get them at any age. When you eat sugary foods and drink sugary sodas, juice or energy drinks, you put yourself at risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Good oral hygiene is especially important for people wearing braces. And it’s always important to wear a mouthguard when playing sports like basketball, soccer, football and hockey to prevent dental emergencies; however, if an emergency occurs, the following tips will help:
What if a tooth is knocked out?
If your tooth is knocked out, immediately call a dentist for an emergency appointment. It is important to see your dentist within an hour of when your tooth is knocked out for the best chance of the tooth surviving the trauma. Handle the tooth by the crown (the top), not by the root (the pointed part on the bottom). Touching the root of the tooth can damage cells that are necessary to reattach the tooth to the bone. Gently rinse the tooth in water to remove dirt. Do not scrub the tooth! Place the clean tooth in your mouth between the cheek and gum to keep it moist. It is important not to let the tooth dry out. If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse it in milk or saline solution (the solution used for contacts).
If a baby tooth is knocked out, the tooth should not be replanted. The patient should be seen as soon as possible to make sure there are no remaining pieces of the tooth.
What if a tooth is pushed out of position?
If your tooth is loosened and pushed out of position, call your dentist right away for an emergency appointment. In the meantime, attempt to reposition it to its normal alignment using very light finger pressure—but don’t force it!
What if a tooth chips or fractures?
There are different types of tooth fractures. Chipped teeth are minor fractures. Moderate fractures include damage to the enamel, tissue, and/or pulp. Severe fractures usually mean that a tooth has been traumatized to the point that it cannot be recovered. If you fracture a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water and use an ice pack or cold compress to reduce swelling. Take ibuprofen, not aspirin, for pain. Your dentist can smooth out minor fractures with a sandpaper disc. Alternatively, restorative procedures may be needed to fix the tooth.
If you have a damaged tooth and need fast and effective dental assistance near Clarksville, TN, contact Patriot Family Dental and let us help return your smile back to its healthy, happy state.