Why are children’s baby teeth important?
Baby teeth are important for jaw growth, appearance, speech and most importantly, to keep the spacing for their adult teeth. Baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth at certain times that are specific to your child. Baby teeth lost early because of tooth decay is the leading cause for crowding of the adult teeth.
How often should my child brush their teeth?
Brushing should be done first thing in the morning and at bedtime – after their final snack. Make sure your child uses only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. If your child doesn’t like the “tingly taste” of the toothpaste you’re using, keep searching until you find a flavour they like.
Make brushing a family affair; young children have not yet developed good coordination so your help with brushing is important. Brush along the gum line and the chewing surfaces using a small circular motion. Most children tend to miss the outer surfaces of the upper-back teeth and the inner surfaces of the lower-back teeth. Teach your child to brush their tongue, too.
Should I be flossing my child’s teeth?
Studies do not show that flossing is important in preventing tooth decay in young children. Brushing and proper diet are most important. We recommend flossing for a child who continues to get decay in between their teeth even after other preventative measures have not worked. If there are spaces in between your child’s teeth, there is no need to floss.
As we age through adolescence and into adulthood, flossing becomes increasingly important in preventing gingivitis, periodontal infections and breath problems.
My friend’s children got sealants – does my child need them?
Sealants are a very effective preventive therapy against tooth decay. On the chewing surface of the baby and adult molars are pits and fissures, which are normal imperfections of these teeth. Sealants fill in these areas to protect them from decay.
The sealant is a liquid that becomes hard like plastic after it is applied to the tooth. Sealant therapy, which was introduced over twenty years ago, is non-invasive (no drilling) and doesn’t require a local anaesthetic.
Why are there white, brown or yellow spots on their new front teeth?
There are many reasons for tooth discolouration and even healthy children can experience this. Most stains are on the tooth surface and are caused by the build-up of plaque, usually from lack of good brushing or mouth breathing. Try adult toothpaste or a mixture of baking soda and water. If this doesn’t work, your dentist should be able to remove the stain if it is on the tooth surface.
Some discolouration is caused by disturbances that happen during tooth growth and cause stains in the enamel (hard outer covering) or the dentin (hard tissue under the enamel). Stains can also be caused by excess fluoride. In cases of childhood malnutrition, chronic illness, long term use of some medications or radiation therapy, tooth spots can result and the teeth will appear malformed (i.e. chipped or broken).
Back teeth (molars) may also be affected. By asking questions about your child’s health history and looking at the teeth, we may be able to identify the cause and suggest options to improve their appearance.
What is a malocclusion?
Malocclusion is a faulty bite. Most of the time, it happens because the size and shape of the teeth don’t match that of the jaws. It can also happen because the upper and lower jaws don’t match each other and the other bones of the face. A look at your child’s profile (side view of the head and face) may help you to see whether there is a problem with the growth of their jaw and facial bones.
The genetics of the parents determine the jaw growth and tooth size of children. Tooth decay of the baby teeth, premature loss of baby teeth from tooth decay and crowding are major causes of malocclusion. Premature loss of baby teeth due to lack of jaw space from erupting adult teeth also causes malocclusion.
My 6 year old’s teeth are crowded, should I be concerned?
Yes, although crowding is common, we need to consider your child’s future oral health. A child with crowded teeth and jaw problems will not necessarily have more problems as they become an adult. However, adults with crowded teeth have more problems (tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontal disease, TMJ problems) than adults with good jaw and tooth alignment.
Because adult teeth are larger than baby teeth, jaw size and growth may not provide enough space. If you still see crowding by 8-9 years when all of the four upper and four lower adult teeth have erupted, the crowding will probably not improve. For most children and adults, crowding is the most common malocclusion. Sometimes a baby tooth is lost early because of lack of jaw space for new adult teeth. If you see crowding request the dentist examine your child, and discuss options with you.