As a pediatric dentist in Springfield, OR, our team at McKenzie River Dental wants all of our patients to enjoy a lifetime of quality oral health. For many parents, the facts surrounding pediatric dental care can cause some confusion. Since a child will eventually lose his or her baby teeth naturally, the concept of practicing quality oral hygiene from a young age may seem at odds with how a child develops. However, a child’s baby teeth actually play an enormously important role in the development of their long-term oral health, making the need for preventative dental care in kids just as important as regular visits to the pediatrician.
To help you understand what challenges a child’s oral health can face, here are a few commonly asked questions many parents have about pediatric dental care.
When Should a Child First Visit a Pediatric dentist in Springfield?
A child should first visit Dr. Schilt, Springfield dentist, when they are between two and three years old. Early preventative care and the establishment of good oral hygiene habits at home will help maintain a child’s smile, while also working to establish trust and a positive attitude about visiting the dentist.
What Dental Problems do Kids Development Most Frequently?
The biggest threat to child’s oral health is Early Childhood Carries (also commonly referred to as Nursing Carries or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay). From the moment a child’s teeth erupt from the gum line they become at risk for tooth decay. The earlier a child starts to receive regular dental care, the better the chance of preventing long-term oral health problems from developing.
Preventative care always offers a better alternative to treatment. Parents can help to prevent the development of tooth decay in kids through scheduling regular dental visits, maintaining oral hygiene at home, and balancing their child’s diets with proper nutrition. To prevent any accidental oral trauma, parents should pay close attention to pacifier, play toys, and car seats.
Between the ages of six months to 3 years, children may develop tender gums when teeth erupt. It’s not uncommon for kids to chew on their toys and fingers and drool excessively when their teeth are erupting. Children can also become rather fussy and cranky during teething, and might develop a mild fever due to dehydration, drooling, and placing unclean fingers and toys in their mouths. Make sure to provide a child with clean toys, cold washcloths, or frozen rings to provide some temporary relief during the teething process. Even the act of gently massaging a child’s gums with a clean finger can help alleviate some discomfort she may experience.
How do You Clean a Child’s Teeth?
From birth, a child needs to have his or her gums cleaned with a soft wash cloth after every feeding. When a child’s first tooth fully erupts, parents can begin brushing their child’s mouth twice a day using toothpaste WITHOUT fluoride and a toothbrush that’s age-appropriate in size.
For kids under the age of 2, simply smear a small amount of toothpaste on the brush, roughly the size of a pinhead. Kids between the ages of 2 to 5 should be brushed using a slightly larger, pea-sized dollop of toothpaste. Since kids lack the manual dexterity to properly brush their teeth, a parent or caregiver should assist kids with brushing until they are old enough to perform the habit correctly themselves. As a general rule, kids are old enough to brush on their own once they can successfully tie their own shoes.
Parents should also begin to floss their kids’ teeth as soon as adjacent teeth make contact to properly clean out bacteria and food particles that can become lodged between teeth.
Are Baby Teeth Really That Important to a Child’s Oral Health Development?
A child’s baby teeth, or primary teeth, act as space holders that work to help guide permanent teeth into position once they begin to form. When a child losses baby teeth at too young an age, permanent teeth can form crooked, crowded, or misaligned. The premature loss of baby teeth greatly increases the risk of needing orthodontic care or other expensive dental treatments to correct problems that could have been easily prevented through improved preventative care.
How Often Should a Child Visit a Pediatric Dentist in Springfield?
Dr. Schilt recommends kids receive a check-up once a year and a cleaning once every six months in order to lower their risk of tooth decay, cavities, and other oral health problems. However, a child may need to visit more frequently depending on his or her own unique oral health needs.
Are Dental X-rays Safe for Kids?
Dental x-rays are incredibly safe and pose very little risk to a child’s health. Dr. Schilt and our team at McKenzie River Dental carefully limit the amount of radiation any of our pediatric patients are exposed to from x-rays.