As a dentist and a mother of two little boys, I am constantly bombarded with questions from parents about their children’s teeth. There seems to be a huge lack of compiled information on the subject. While I have seen plenty of information for parents and caregivers on cord care, rashes and behavioral techniques, I have yet to see a comprehensive guide on the development and care of children’s teeth. And, unfortunately, your children’s teeth are a huge part of their childhood and will have an enormous impact on their adult lives. Misinformation or lack of knowledge can cause frustrating experiences during these critical times. It can make parents feel unsure of what to do when there dentist suggests certain treatment or diagnosis. It can also just leave parents feeling confused or unsure of curious dental questions which always seem to arise through the child’s growing years.
Infants begin the process of teething around 3-4 months old, until the first tooth makes its appearance around 6-7 months old. This long and sometimes tumultuous process will lay the foundation for many years to come. Did you know that babies are not born with the bacteria that cause cavities? Did you know that when we kiss and coo near our babies mouths that we introduce cavity causing bacteria to them, exposing them to possible tooth decay? By keeping those slobbery but wonderful kisses to a minimum, we may be able to delay tooth decay much longer in our kids.
Have you ever heard the popular myth, “Baby teeth can’t be important, they are just going to fall out anyway?” This all too popular belief among the dentally unaware is a huge cause for the many preventable dental problems with children’s teeth today. Baby teeth are extremely important to tooth position of the permanent teeth and can also play a large role in the future facial appearance of a child. They may determine whether or not a child will need braces or head-gear. Early orthodontic planning and treatment can save parents thousands of dollars later.
And, for those parents who cannot afford braces, early dental evaluation could yield less expensive solutions just by using alternative treatment while in the baby teeth years. This early intervention could save your child from being embarrassed of their smile as or wear braces as an adult. So how early should children’s teeth be placed in braces? Well, there are a multitude of factors to be considered and all are dependent on the dental situation as a child. After years of research, we now know that once children reach the age of puberty, conservative orthodontics is much more difficult. So, it is not uncommon or outrageous to evaluate and start simple orthodontic care as early as age 7, to help avoid more extensive orthodontics later.