Did you know that almost all of an infant’s primary teeth are already formed by the time they are born? The primary teeth are also known as baby teeth. These typically begin forming in the baby’s mouth between the second and third trimester of pregnancy. By the time the baby is born, most of the teeth have formed and are hiding in the jaw beneath the gums.
As a new parent, you may have all sorts of questions regarding your child’s dental care. When should it begin? How old should your baby be before you start brushing or flossing their teeth? When should they start visiting a dentist? All of these are important questions to ask and have answered before you have your baby. You might be surprised to know that proper dental care begins sooner than you think.
When Does Dental Care Start For A Child?
The first primary teeth usually begin cutting the gums around six months old. There are some babies who won’t start until later and some who start earlier, but that’s perfectly normal. However, their dental care should begin long before the first tooth ever appears.
Remember, all of the teeth are already formed you just can’t see them. Oral hygiene itself refers to taking care of the mouth in general and not just the teeth. Even without teeth, various bacteria will gather in your child’s mouth.
It’s a good idea to start their dental routine with a damp washcloth. Take the cloth and gently wipe it back and forth across the baby’s gums. This won’t help the teeth, but it will help remove some of the harmful bacteria building up inside the mouth. Brushing teeth begins as soon as the first tooth appears.
When Teeth Begin To Appear
It’s usually the front, bottom teeth that will come in first. After this the four teeth on top and the next two bottom teeth are often the next to arrive. Afterwards, tooth after tooth will begin to populate the child’s mouth. Do not wait until all of the teeth are there to start brushing. You can actually begin brushing as soon as the first bottom teeth emerge.
Their baby teeth will eventually fall out, but you should still take care of them in the meantime. Healthy teeth are very important for the growth and development of a child. Teeth are important for things like correct speech and chewing food. It’s difficult to do either of those with missing or damaged teeth.
Once teeth begin appearing in your child’s mouth you should start brushing twice a day. Get them used to the routine and they will be prepared to continue themselves when they are older. Always use the softest toothbrush you can find and only a small smudge of toothpaste. If the bristles on the brush are hurting the child you can try soaking them in warm water for a couple of minutes to soften them first. But you should be able to find special tooth brushes for babies which have very soft bristles.
Reaching Two Years Old
Your child should graduate to a more adult way of brushing their teeth once they reach two-years-old. At this time you can start using fluoridated toothpaste. Still only use a small amount in case the child swallows the toothpaste. Swallowing fluoridated toothpaste can lead to fluorosis.
You can also begin flossing once there are two teeth in the mouth next to one another. Flossing should be a regular part of the dental care routine just like brushing. Without flossing, bacteria and debris can hide between their teeth and cause serious damage over time.
Eventually, your child will want to start brushing their teeth themselves. It’s fine to let them brush their teeth to learn the motions. However, you should brush them again yourself afterwards. Most children can’t effectively brush their teeth properly. It’s not until the ages of seven or eight that most kids learn the right way to brush their own teeth. Until then you will need to supervise and do most of the work yourself.
Stick To The Routine
Don’t push your child’s dental care to the side because of their age. The sooner you start caring for their teeth the better. Teach them the importance of good oral hygiene and prepare them to do the job themselves.