Teeth start forming under the gums even before a child is born. A child’s first tooth generally breaks through the gum between 5 and 6 months of age. Some children don’t get their first tooth until they are a year old.
Tooth decay is the major cause of tooth loss in children. Parents need to teach, watch, and help children brush their teeth to avoid tooth decay. Avoiding sugary foods, and regular dentist visits can also greatly lower the chance of getting cavities. Taking care of your child's teeth is not hard, but it takes both parent and child to make it happen. You should start teaching your child about brushing as soon as your child has teeth.
Babies can get tooth decay from having the sugar from milk or juice sit in their mouths for long periods of time. Never let your child walk around with a bottle all day or lie down with a bottle to go to sleep because it can damage the teeth.
You can also help your child by following these tips:
By the age of 7 your child should be able to brush his teeth alone. By the age of 8, children should be able to floss their own teeth.
Having a dentist regularly check your child's teeth encourages good dental habits and can prevent more costly and painful problems later. Your dentist can help teach you and your child good food choices and proper brushing.
It is important for your child to see the dentist while he still has baby teeth (primary teeth). Baby teeth help children chew food, speak clearly, and make space for their permanent teeth. Permanent teeth start to come in at about 5 to 6 years of age. Even though your child will lose these teeth, it is important to develop the habits that will protect the permanent teeth before the baby teeth are lost. Ask your dentist if your child may benefit from sealants or fluoride treatments.
The best time for children to start to see a dentist is between 1 and 3 years of age. Thereafter, a dental appointment is generally recommended every 6 months.
Your child should also go to the dentist:
A chronic (ongoing) disease or medicine can sometimes cause dental problems. If your child has a chronic disease, check with a dentist about any special dental care your child needs.
Many medicines have ingredients in them that may damage the teeth. For example, an antibiotic such as tetracycline may stain teeth if it is used before the age of 9 years.
Affording dental care can sometimes be difficult. Your health insurance program, such as Medicaid, may cover dental benefits, so check this resource first. If you are concerned about paying for the dentist, talk to your healthcare provider or contact a local dental society about affordable dental care.