Why is dental health important for your child? Las Vegas dentist explains
Since baby teeth fall out, it can be easy to assume that dental care for children is not a priority. However, this is a misconception that can be extremely detrimental to your child’s long-term oral health and development. Below, Dr. Christopher Lim, dentist in Las Vegas, NV, explains the many reasons why dental health and regular dental care is important for your child.
Baby teeth are important!
Even though children lose their baby teeth, they play many important roles in your child’s developing body – and not just their mouth.
Baby teeth serve the following functions:
- Keeping the proper amount of space for their adult teeth to grow in: if a child prematurely loses one or more baby teeth, then the other teeth in their mouth will naturally shift to fill in the gap left by the lost tooth; this inhibits the adult teeth from growing into the right location in the mouth and can lead to costly and time-consuming orthodontic treatments later in your child’s life
- Learning to speak correctly: Baby teeth are critical in helping your child begin to form speech sounds and learn how to say them properly, especially sounds that can only be spoken with teeth in their proper positions, such as “s,” “t,” “th,” and many others
- Properly chewing food: Each tooth serves an important function in properly chewing and therefore digesting food; when teeth are missing, it can be difficult for your child to eat
- Boosting your child’s self-confidence: Mental and social well-being is just as important as your child’s physical health, and having a smile they feel confident about and the ability to properly speak and chew can contribute to healthy self-esteem and prevent embarrassment
Keeping your child’s smile healthy
Gum disease and tooth decay can begin as soon as the first teeth erupt, which is before the age of one in many children. That’s why we recommend that you begin dental care for your child at an early age, in addition to taking regular care of your child’s teeth and gums at home.
Babies should have their gums cleaned with a warm washcloth and any teeth that have emerged should be gently brushed with a soft toothbrush. A major source of cavities and decay in baby teeth is the bottle. Letting children fall asleep with a bottle that contains milk, juice, or formula results in these sugary fluids resting on your child’s teeth for extended periods at a time, and dental caries can form as a result. In some severe cases, the underlying bone structure and adult teeth can even become affected. At dental visits, we will monitor for signs of these issues and quickly treat them before they can progress. Instead of giving your child a bottle in bed, we recommend feeding your child before they go to bed and then gently cleaning your baby’s mouth immediately afterwards.
As children begin to grow more teeth, daily brushing with a very small amount of toothpaste can help keep debris and plaque from accumulating on their teeth. Adult assistance with brushing is important until your child is fully capable of brushing all surfaces of their teeth and not swallowing toothpaste. Dental visits for younger children focus on monitoring their tooth growth and oral development, checking for signs of decay or gum irritation, and making dental visits informative and fun to lay the groundwork for a lifetime of good dental habits.
Once children’s baby teeth start falling out and adult teeth grow in, we may recommend one or more of the following:
- Fluoride treatments to help keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong
- Dental sealants for children who may be prone to forming cavities in the deep grooves and crevices in the teeth
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder treatment
- Orthodontic consultations for issues such as overcrowding or bite problems
- Dental bonding if your child develops a chip or crack in a tooth to help restore its function and prevent bacterial infiltration
Schedule an appointment today
Your child’s teeth do more than just make a cute smile – they are truly important for your child’s health and well-being. It is important to keep children’s teeth clean and healthy with both daily home care and regular professional cleanings and check-ups. At Hillside Dental in Las Vegas, we love helping kids learn how to take care of their teeth and watching their teeth develop into healthy adult smiles. Call us today at 702-666-8584 to schedule your child’s appointment! Existing patients can reach us at 702-666-8584.