Tooth Tips: Keeping Your Child’s Smile Healthy

A healthy mouth is an important part of a healthy body. Being informed about proper dental hygiene, good eating habits, and a routine care by a dental professional all contribute toward a beautiful smile.

General guidelines suggest a dental evaluation when the first baby tooth erupts or by age one.

This is an overall assessment of the child’s oral condition and possible presence of decay. Regular visits for dental cleaning, radiographs, oral examination, and fluoride treatments should begin by age three, unless a dental need is seen or suspected before that time, and continue at six month intervals monitoring the child’s growth and development. Getting a child familiar with the procedures at an early age is vital for developing a comfortable patient doctor relationship.

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Nutrition plays a major role in oral health.

Foods that contain large quantities of sugar/carbohydrates can be very damaging to the enamel surface of the teeth, especially if the amount and frequency of these products is not properly managed. Limiting these foods is essential two hours prior to bedtime and throughout the night, as this can lead to rapid development and progression of dental decay.

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Also, drinks such as milk, soda, and fruit juices are not acceptable during bedtime hours as they can pool behind and around the teeth if not completely swallowed, again leading to rapid tooth decay. For children who are still nursing, it is recommended that their teeth be cleaned after night time feedings with a small toothbrush, finger brush, or clean washcloth. This also applies to toddlers who want a night time drink.

The daily homecare routine should include brushing, as well as flossing.

For children who are not yet capable of spitting out toothpaste, usually under the age of two, non-fluoridated toothpaste is recommended. By age two, a child can begin using fluoridated toothpaste. If still swallowing paste, it is recommended to use a smear layer of paste. Once the child is able to expectorate the paste, a pea sized amount of toothpaste should be used. Brushing should be done at least twice daily and is a necessity prior to bedtime as plaque and food debris are most harmful as you sleep. If possible, brushing or rinsing after each meal is ideal. Flossing should be conducted once daily, preferably before bed to remove plaque and bacteria from the surfaces between the teeth.

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More info about your child’s dental development and care:

  • After all baby teeth are erupted, around age 2.5-3, there should be twenty teeth present. Normally these teeth begin to become loose around the age of 6 – 7.
  • Generally all baby teeth are lost by age 12-13.
  • When all the permanent teeth erupt, usually by 18 years of age, thirty-two teeth are present, including the third molars/wisdom teeth.
  • Evaluations of tooth alignment and occlusion are conducted on each routine dental visit.
  • Orthodontics/braces are generally placed when most of the permanent teeth have erupted, but early treatment with appliance or bracket therapy is sometimes necessary.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call Barto Pediatric Dentistry at 423-877-2443.


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