Written by: Mitra Bolouri, DDS (Dallas County Dental Society member)
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month which makes a great time to debunk some popular myths you may have heard regarding baby teeth!
Myth #1: Baby teeth don’t matter because they’ll fall out eventually.
Baby teeth do matter! Most obviously they help your child chew. Beyond that, they aid in speech and help keep space available for the permanent teeth as they come in. If a child loses a baby tooth early, she may lose the space where the adult tooth was going to grow in, which would need to be opened back up with braces.
Myth #2: Children don’t need to see a dentist unless there’s a problem.
The American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry both agree that a child should see a dentist when his or her first tooth comes in or by the first birthday, whichever comes first. Even if there are no issues of which you are aware, the dentist will check to make sure everything looks okay and can guide you in how to best care for your child’s teeth and prevent any issues from happening down the road.
Myth #3: If a little toothpaste is good, a lot is even better.
Don’t let the toothpaste commercials fool you: you don’t need a lot of toothpaste to effectively clean your child’s teeth. Before any teeth come in, wipe their gums with a moistened washcloth or gauze. Until they are three years old, use only a smear of toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice on a child-sized toothbrush. From ages three to six, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used. And, most importantly, don’t forget to monitor and assist in toothbrushing until your child is capable of doing it on their own!
Myth #4: Fluoridated water is unsafe for children.
Fluoride helps make teeth stronger and less susceptible to the acid caused by the bacteria which creates cavities. The amount of fluoride found in tap water is not only safe, but can help prevent your child from getting cavities. Toothpaste with fluoride is also safe, provided that your child is using the appropriate amount for his or her age. Most children receive additional fluoride treatments at their dental check ups. All of this is highly regulated to ensure that your child and yourself do not receive an unhealthy amount of fluoride.
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