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5 Myths About Baby Teeth Every Mother Needs to Know

Posted by Veronica Greene on

5 Myths About Baby Teeth Every Mother Needs to Know

By the time we are adults, most of us have a clear understanding of what oral care entails. However, it can be confusing and vague as to how to care for baby teeth. As a dentist, I’ve seen the effects of neglect in younger patients, which often leads to caries (cavities) that lead to baby teeth loss early and adult teeth coming in incorrectly. As a new mom, I’ve done a great deal of research on the subject to make sure my little one has great teeth for years to come. The following will answer some questions and dispel several common misconceptions about caring for primary teeth.

MYTH: Baby teeth aren’t that important.
FACT: Yes, your baby’s primary teeth are temporary and will eventually fall out. However, they have many essential functions before adult teeth replace them. Baby teeth are very important for eating and getting proper nutrition. They also play a role in the development of the face structure and in holding space for adult teeth. If a baby tooth is lost too early because of decay, the other baby teeth could shift into its position, so there isn’t enough space for the adult teeth to grow in. Another reason those tiny teeth are critical: your baby’s speech development. These teeth will eventually help to produce sounds like th and sh.

MYTH: Teething can make your baby sick.
FACT: Although you may have heard that teething causes diarrhea, fever, and a whole host of other problems, recent research shows that any symptoms are quite mild. Gum irritation, drooling, and irritability are the most common symptoms associated with teething, according to a recent study in Pediatrics; some babies may also experience a slight rise in temperature. 

MYTH: You should brush your baby’s teeth once daily.
FACT: The latest research shows that twice a day is better. Cavities are caused by plaque, a thin film of bacteria that forms on the tooth surface. It takes brushing more than once a day to clean off the plaque. Before your baby has any teeth, clean their mouth and gums with a damp washcloth. Once the first tooth sprouts, switch to a small, soft-bristled toothbrush, and use a fluoridated toothpaste in small amounts. 

Myth: Babies can’t get cavities.
FACT: Any tooth can get a cavity. Baby teeth are part of a human body, small as it may be, and are therefore exposed to bacteria, which are present generally in the mouth. Also, the permanent tooth is forming right at the ends of the root of the baby tooth, so any infection in the baby tooth can damage the permanent tooth. One study found that children who had cavities in their baby teeth were three times more likely to develop cavities in their adult teeth. In addition to brushing, the most important way to reduce your baby’s likelihood of developing cavities is to avoid putting the baby to bed with a bottle of formula or juice or breastfeeding your little one on and off throughout the night. 

MYTH: You should schedule the first dental checkup by age 3.
FACT: The American Academy of Pediatrics and the AAPD now both recommend that a baby see a dentist after the first tooth appears or by first birthday at the latest. According to studies, about 60 percent of children in the U.S. have tooth decay by the time they’re five years old. At the first visit, a pediatric dentist will do an exam to evaluate your baby’s current cavity risk and talk with you about what you can do to keep your baby’s mouth healthy. After the first visit, your little one should have a dental checkup every six months or as recommended by your dentist.

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