Should proper care of children’s “baby teeth” be a priority for parents?
“Definitely!” says Surrey pediatric dentist Dr. Nancy Vertel, of Half Moon Dentistry for Children.
In fact, caring for so-called “baby teeth” is crucial. Not only does it establish good habits that will serve children their entire life, but it also prepares the jaw for the adult teeth to follow and prevents a whole host of potential problems such as pain and infection.
But they’re just ‘baby teeth’
Without regular care of gums and ‘baby’ teeth, children are at risk of decay that can affect eating and speech and increase the risk of decay in permanent teeth, notes Dr. Vertel, whose pediatric-focused practice emphasizes the value of both education and experience.
“We’re all certified specialists in our practice – pediatric dentistry,” she notes.
Pointing out that decay-related discomfort and pain leads to lost school days, difficulty learning and self-esteem issues, dental surgery is also the No. 1 surgery performed on children, Dr. Vertel says.
So, how can parents and caregivers ensure healthy dental habits?
- Start early – From baby’s first days, parents should gently clean baby’s gums and teeth as they come in. Plan the child’s first visit to the dentist around their first birthday. This will help establish the relationship, get them familiar with the dentist and ensure their mouth and teeth are developing as they should. Subsequent visits will reinforce this positive experience, Dr. Vertel says. Further, by alleviating fears children may have with the dentist – or better yet, preventing those fears in the first place – they’ll grow into young adults with a positive outlook toward the dentist and dental care.
- Monitor brushing – In addition to teaching and modelling positive brushing habits, parents also need to monitor children’s brushing until at least age seven or eight, says Dr. Vertel, who is happy to help parents with tips and techniques. Once the molars start to touch, it’s time to also begin flossing.
- Snack smart – Watch out for sticky snacks and treats – everything from raisins and fruit leather to crackers and chewable vitamins and supplements can get caught between teeth and could lead to cavities.
Dr. Nancy Vertel and her Half Moon Dentistry for Children team specialize in treating patients from birth to age 18, plus those with special needs. While focused on creating positive relationships with patients, for children who are nervous, a range of treatment and sedation options are available.