13400 West Washington Blvd, Suite 202B Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 827-2792

Why Do Baby Teeth Need to be Babied?

While nearly all parents will do whatever they can to make sure their infants, toddlers, and older children see a pediatrician, pediatric dentistry for our youngest kids may not always get the same priority. After all, baby teeth generally start falling out when kids are younger than seven, so it might be tempting to assume it’s okay to wait until later before a child sees a dentist. This couldn’t be more wrong.

Dental Issues are Crucial – Literally from the Start!

It’s becoming increasingly clear that our oral health is closely linked with our overall, head-to-toe, health. That means that, even as new lives are forming inside the womb, it’s essential for mothers-to-be to ensure their dental health is stable. Cavities, toothaches, and gum disease are unpleasant and troublesome at any time of life but can be especially devastating during pregnancy. Even more seriously, periodontal disease and other problems increase the risk of multiple health problems later in life.

Babies and Toddlers Get Toothaches

If you’ve had a severe toothache, you know how awful the pain can be. That’s not something any loving parent wants for their child. Nor do you want an early-life trauma that can be the beginning of a lifetime of oral health problems.

Childhood dental illness is incredibly common. About 40 percent of children in the United States have tooth decay before they are ready for kindergarten. This is one excellent reason why California and 14 other states* mandate a dental visit before children start elementary school. Of course, as we’ve already said, you must take the initiative with your children’s oral health long before that point.

Prevention Starts at the Beginning

Regular oral hygiene begins immediately after birth. It’s important to always clean a new baby’s gums after feeding and to remember that tooth decay is a transmissible illness – this means disinfecting pacifiers or anything that touches your baby’s mouth, not sharing utensils, and otherwise avoiding putting your “germs” into your child’s mouth unnecessarily. When baby teeth begin to come in, it’s time to start gently brushing with water but without toothpaste. When teeth come in fully, you will want to ask your dentist about applying a fluoride varnish. At about 18 months, unless your dentist says otherwise, it’s time to start using a small amount of children’s toothpaste. (If your child is at a high risk of severe decay, your dentist may recommend using adult toothpaste instead, but please do not use it if you don’t have a clear okay.)

While we understand the challenges of putting little ones to bed and the sleep deprivation that often accompanies babyhood, it’s important to not let children fall asleep with a bottle of milk or fruit juice as this multiplies the risk of tooth decay, and the toothaches that may follow. Moreover, it’s important to transition little ones to cups as early as possible; usually, this means starting at about six months and completing the transition by the time the child is one to about 18 months.

Teaching Dental Hygiene

You likely remember being continually reminded to brush your teeth and being taken to the dentist as a child and, as a parent, it’s time to pass the favor forward. Setting up good oral hygiene habits early is the best way to ensure your child has a healthy smile long into adulthood.

This will include teaching youngsters to brush with a children’s fluoride toothpaste twice daily. Make sure kids spit out toothpaste and do not swallow it, which is one good reason we recommend that you watch your children brush until roughly around age 6. While children’s toothpaste has lower concentrations of fluoride and is safe, it’s still not great for them to swallow toothpaste as it can lead to temporary stomach upset. More permanently, it can lead to fluorosis later in life. This is a primarily cosmetic issue present in about 23 percent of the U.S. population that can cause specks and other types of discoloration in teeth.

Early childhood is the time to help children develop good oral hygiene habits. Here at Elegant Dentistry in West Los Angeles, our pediatric dentists understand that children are not just small adults. At first, it’s entirely natural for young children to be apprehensive when a stranger wants to investigate a child’s mouth – an experienced pediatric dentist needs to have a very particular type of chairside manner to ensure that youngsters cooperate with a minimum of stress.

Don’t Wait Too Long!

Whether your child’s first appointment is overdue, you want some early advice on dental care for your baby, or you need a family dental office, Elegant Dentistry in Marina del Rey is widely known as the finest dental office on LA’s west side. Adjacent to Culver City and Venice/Mar Vista, and close to Santa Monica, and Playa del Rey, our offices helped people of all get and keep beautiful smiles. We offer everything from preventive care to dental implantscosmetic dentistry, and a lot more.

Whatever you or your loved ones need, please call us today at the phone number on your screen or by visiting our contact page.

*An elementary school dental mandate is also in effect in the District of Columbia.

(310) 827-2792