Good oral hygiene is important for individuals of all ages, but establishing the right practices from an early age is critical. Caring for your child’s teeth and gums as they develop and instilling the right skills and routines as they grow older will benefit them in many ways.
Early oral hygiene is vital to ensuring oral health, proper development, and a lifetime of effective routines.
Ensuring the Health of Tooth Roots and Adult Teeth
While it is true that your child’s baby teeth will fall out on their own eventually, this does not mean that caring for them is not important. Brushing and flossing your child’s teeth from the time their baby teeth first emerge helps prevent potential issues.
Baby teeth are even more susceptible to tooth decay than adult teeth are. They have thinner enamel, which allows cavities to develop and become serious more quickly. Children are also prone to eating sugary snacks and often find themselves with bits of food stuck in their teeth after eating, both of which accelerate tooth decay.
Avoiding cavities is important for your child’s dental comfort. Even though the tooth will fall out eventually, your child will have to live with the cavity in the meantime. Not only that, but the cavity can cause other issues to develop as the situation worsens.
Eventually, bacteria will infiltrate the nerve and pulp tissue inside the tooth. This infection can be treated with a pulpotomy, which is similar to a root canal treatment. However, the infection can accelerate and spread if left untreated.
There is a risk of the infection spreading to the adult tooth still underneath the baby tooth. This can lead to the formation of a pus-filled cavity called an abscess. This situation generally calls for extraction, resulting in the loss of the adult tooth too.
The infection can affect the adult tooth in other ways. The tooth could become permanently discolored or malformed.
Keeping baby teeth healthy is vital for making sure that the adult teeth are healthy as well.
Encouraging Healthy Development
Without proper oral hygiene, your child is likely to develop cavities. Once deep enough, a cavity can cause a serious enough infection to warrant extracting the tooth. This could happen years before the adult tooth is ready to emerge into the empty space, which may lead to problems during its development.
Your child’s other teeth will likely shift into the gap left by the missing tooth. This can cause teeth to change positions, creating misalignment and an imbalanced bite. That issue alone can lead to the need for orthodontic treatment, but there are additional risks as well.
When your child’s adult teeth emerge, they could impact the teeth that have shifted into the gap. This can create serious misalignment issues and other complications like crowding. In that case, your child could need significant orthodontic care.
While early orthodontic appliances can prevent this situation, the best prevention is ensuring proper oral hygiene to prevent tooth loss due to tooth decay.
Fostering Good Oral Hygiene Practices for Life
For the first years of their life, your child depends on you to handle their oral hygiene. Following an established routine helps set your child up with a foundation for lifelong oral hygiene. They will accept that brushing and flossing are integral parts of their day and understand how to do them correctly.
Proper oral hygiene starts before your child’s first baby teeth emerge. From birth, you should clean your baby’s gums with a moistened washcloth around one finger. Even before teeth are present, there are still bacteria in the mouth. Cleaning removes residual milk that could provide food for bacteria, along with excess bacteria.
When teeth do emerge, it is important to start brushing right away. You can use a moistened, soft-bristled toothbrush, without toothpaste, to brush twice each day. The age of two is generally the appropriate time to start using a small amount of toothpaste and to teach your child to spit out the toothpaste when finished brushing.
Over the next few years, you can start to teach your child to brush on their own, giving them a turn while still helping out with proper brushing techniques. Flossing is also essential.
Following the same routine every day can help your child establish long-term effective oral hygiene practices and alleviate much of the difficulty associated with getting children to brush their teeth.
By building on a solid foundation from birth, most children are prepared to brush their teeth independently around six or seven.
You will have to make this assessment on your own, based on how well your child has grasped the skills required. Some children may need a bit more help, while others will need only occasional check-ins to make sure they are handling brushing properly.
Take the Steps You Need to Protect Your Child’s Teeth
Ensuring that your child develops a proper oral hygiene routine is essential to their development and lifelong oral health. Providing your child with the right pediatric dental care is just as important.
Exams and cleanings play a crucial role in prevention and treatment planning, and treating issues early can achieve better outcomes. Children’s Dental FunZone offers an extensive range of quality pediatric dental treatments.