Pam—the mom who does pilates five days a week, is president of the PTA, works a 40-hour week, and somehow still always looks rested—told you she doesn’t take her kids to see a dentist regularly. “Baby teeth fall out anyway.” Oh, Pam.
The truth is, when the mouth isn’t properly cared for, it can start serious health issues throughout the body. Think of how everything you eat affects you in some way, for better or worse. Well, the same goes for the bacteria thriving in your mouth’s hot, moist environment. It gets all mixed up in saliva, so when you swallow, it enters the bloodstream and starts circulating throughout your entire body. Kind of gross.
But your kids’ mouths aren’t any different. And, if we’re being honest, they’re probably much less discerning about what goes in their mouth to begin with.
Why do baby teeth matter?
Baby teeth—those tiny little things kids leave under their pillows—start coming through the gums between 6 and 12 months old. And whenever that happens—the moment you see their adorable single-tooth smile—your child needs to be taken to see a dentist regularly.
What will pediatric dentists be looking for? Well, lots of things, but let’s talk about a few common, easily-fixable, childhood dental issues that can prevent tiny smiles from experiencing long-term issues.
Premature loss of baby teeth
If a baby tooth falls out prematurely, it can cause permanent teeth to drift. That could mean crowded, crooked teeth somewhere down the line. Even if you’ve been planning on braces, crooked teeth need to be cared for in the 10-15 years leading up to the pleasures of pre-pubescent orthodontics.
One important thing to note: kids’ mouths are susceptible to gum disease and other serious dental issues like Malocclusions, also known as bad bites. When left untreated, Malocclusions can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean. This can lead to cavities or gum disease. And nobody wants that.
Baby bottle tooth decay
Tooth decay isn’t just for the life-long sugar lovers among us. A child who is never taken to see a dentist is also likely to experience it.
While most common in the upper front teeth, any baby teeth can be affected by tooth decay. The most common causes? How much sugar they intake from drinking milk and how long a bottle’s in their mouth. So try to avoid giving your little angel a bottle right before bed or using it as a replacement pacifier.
But even if you avoid those don’ts, tooth decay can still occur. How? Well, it’s a result of cavity-causing bacteria that could come from many places—including you. Have you ever shared a spoon with your child? What about “cleaned” their pacifier with your own mouth? It’s time to cut all that out.
But there’s good news! Childhood tooth decay is entirely preventable. By using fluoride, taking your child to see a dentist for regular checkups, and avoiding passing along bacteria from your own mouth, pediatric tooth decay will be a non-issue.
Getting ready for your child’s dental visit
When it comes to your child’s teeth, you and your MDA dentist are on the same team. Just like you, they want to ensure your child has a healthy smile without any cause for concern. Because the only thing cuter than a child’s sweet little smile is a child’s healthy sweet little smile.