Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist?
Although your child will lose his or her first set of teeth, those small pearly whites still require conscientious care. That is why it is important from an early age to begin visiting a pediatric dentist. Baby teeth (or primary teeth) may not last forever, but they serve some extremely important functions. And taking care of your child’s oral and dental health now will ensure a future of happy and healthy smiles.
Important Functions of Baby Teeth
Baby teeth act as guides for the eruption of permanent (adult) teeth, holding the space for them. When permanent teeth are ready to come out, the crowns (tops) of the teeth push against the roots of the baby teeth, causing them to resorb, or melt away so the adult
teeth can take their proper place.
Additionally, primary teeth are solely responsible for a child’s ability to chew, bite, and speak for about the first six years of his or her life. And as adult teeth grow in, the remaining primary teeth will continue to aid your child with these important functions. As such, you’ll want to make sure those baby teeth stay healthy and are lost naturally when it's time.
Your Child's First Teeth
Your child will develop 20 baby teeth. These teeth start to appear usually when your child is between six and nine months of age, though in some cases development may start as early as three months or as late as after twelve months. The two lower front teeth tend to erupt first, followed by the two upper ones. The lateral incisors usually come in next, followed by the first molars, the canines (eyeteeth), and finally the second primary molars. Sometimes your baby can experience teething discomfort during this time. If your baby experiences discomfort, please let your pediatric dentist know and we will advise you as to the best course of action.
Your infant's gums and newly erupted teeth should be gently wiped after each feeding with a water-soaked gauze pad or a damp washcloth. You should start brushing your child’s teeth twice a day (morning and night) as soon as their first tooth appears using a finger brush or infant toothbrush with soft bristles. You should always use an age-appropriate sized toothbrush for your child. For children under 3 years old, a smear or grain of rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste should be applied to the toothbrush by the parent or caregiver. Your child will need your help with this important task until he or she is at least six years old. Even when your child is old enough to brush their own teeth, you should still monitor them and assist as needed. You should also use floss or other appropriate tools to help clean between the teeth that are touching together.
Your Child's First Dental Appointment
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you bring your child in for his or her first visit to a pediatric dentist by age one. This may sound early, but it is very important that we begin instilling proper pediatric oral hygiene techniques, checking for cavities, and watching for developmental problems from an early age.
We want to make sure your child has a positive experience at our DuPont, WA office from the start, and will become a regular visitor for years to come as a result. Moreover, we want to keep your child’s smile healthy and bright. There are a number of forms of tooth decay that can affect babies and small children. Early Childhood Caries tooth decay, for example, can develop rapidly, progressing from the hard, outer enamel layer of a tooth into the softer, inner dentin in six months or less.
Common Pediatric Dental Treatments
There are a variety of dental treatments we provide at our DuPont, WA pediatric dentistry practice to prevent tooth decay in children and save or repair teeth when necessary. Aside from providing thorough cleanings, we also offer:
Fluoride incorporates into the enamel of teeth, making the enamel harder and more resistant to decay. Although there is a small amount of fluoride in toothpaste and in some drinking water supplies, our pediatric dentist can apply a higher concentration onto your child's teeth for maximum protection.
Our pediatric dentist can apply a plastic coating that prevents cavities by sealing the little grooves on the chewing surfaces of back teeth known as “pits and fissures.” These little crevices are the perfect environments for decay-causing bacteria to hide. Immature tooth enamel is more permeable and therefore less resistant to tooth decay. Dental sealants are an easy-to-apply form of protection that can safeguard your child’s teeth for years.
At Children’s Dentistry of DuPont, we utilize dental fillings as a means to restore a damaged tooth following the development of a cavity or decay. This process involves removing the decay and sealing off the area so that no bacteria can continue to harm it.
Should your child lose a baby tooth prematurely, space maintainers can be fixed to the inside of his or her mouth to retain your child’s bite and healthy tooth alignment until the missing permanent tooth grows in.
Call Children's Dentistry of DuPont at (253) 244-9778 for more information.