Early Dental Care

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Kids Dentist in Maplewood, MN

child brushing teeth

At Maplewood Dental Associates, we believe everyone deserves a beautiful, healthy smile – and we're proud to help patients of all ages achieve one through world-class dental care. As a leading dental practice serving the Maplewood, MN area, we provide a wide range of dental treatments ranging from preventive cleanings and checkups to comprehensive restorative care like dental implants. But to truly achieve a great smile, the best option is to start early – and that's where early dental care comes in.

Teething

One of the first milestones in your child's dental development is teething – and while exciting, this can be a difficult time. The first tooth will generally erupt between 6 months and a year of age, and for the next 2 years or so you may notice your child being grumpy or irritable. The simple fact is that teething hurts and children can get upset due to aching, sore, and tender gums.

If your child experiences teething pain, there are a number of strategies for coping with it. Using a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a wet washcloth to rub sore gums can help alleviate pain. Teething rings are another great option – but avoid teething biscuits, as these contain sugars that can harm baby teeth.

Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

One of the most important things to look out for during your child's early dental development is baby bottle decay. This is a specific form of dental decay that can occur from bottle feeding, and it can wreak havoc on an infant or toddler's teeth.

Baby bottle decay occurs when the sugars found in milk or food interact with naturally-occurring bacteria in the mouth to form acids, which attack tooth enamel. When a child is awake, saliva carries these acids away before they can do significant damage. However, if a child is asleep, saliva production drops dramatically, significantly increasing the damage.

To avoid baby bottle decay, never let your child fall asleep when they have a bottle in their mouth filled with anything but water. Make a point to examine your child's teeth every week or two for signs of decay, as well: baby bottle decay looks like dull or white spots, marks, or lines on the teeth. If you do see any signs of baby bottle decay, contact us to schedule a checkup appointment.

pexels-photo-774910The Importance of Baby Teeth

Some parents ask us why protecting baby teeth really matters – after all, won't they fall out eventually? While it's true that primary teeth will eventually fall out, the health of baby teeth is still vitally important to your child's dental development.

For starters, primary teeth help your child learn to chew, speak, and swallow correctly. Without healthy baby teeth, it's possible for children to develop disorders in these vital functions. Baby teeth also play an important role in the development of the jaws and mouth, ensuring the bone structure develops normally. Finally, primary teeth act as guides that help the permanent teeth grow into the correct alignment. If a primary tooth falls out, we'll likely need to fit your child with a space maintainer to ensure that the teeth maintain a proper alignment and prevent orthodontic problems later on. Ideally, though, we strive to maintain strong primary teeth to ensure your child's healthy development.

Infant Tooth Eruption

Baby teeth begin to form in the womb, and you may see the first teeth erupt as early as 4 months of age. Generally, the lower central incisors erupt first, followed by the upper central incisors. From there, the rest of the 20 baby teeth will come in over the following years, usually finishing by age 3. Once your child reaches 6 years of age, they'll start to lose baby teeth and have them replaced by adult teeth, concluding with the third molars (wisdom teeth) around age 21.

When Should My Child First See the Dentist?

One of the most common questions we hear from parents is when their child's first appointment should be – and it turns out, it may be much earlier than you think! Generally, we ask parents to bring their children for an initial appointment on their first birthday. This appointment isn't really about treatment – it's more a chance for us to get to know each other, to get your child used to the prospect of dental appointments, and for your Maplewood dentist to examine your child's teeth and make sure things are developing as normal.

Importance of Diet for Healthy Teeth

You probably realize that regular brushing and flossing are important to good oral hygiene, but diet plays a role as well. A healthy, balanced diet is critical to promoting the health of the teeth and gums. Try to avoid giving your child foods loaded with sugar or carbohydrates – these break down into acids that attack tooth enamel. Instead, opt for healthy options like vegetables, low-fat yogurts and cheeses, and other healthy foods that promote strong, healthy teeth.

Contact Your Maplewood, MN Pediatric Dentists

A healthy, beautiful smile is something that lasts a lifetime – but the best way to achieve one is to start in the first years of life. At Maplewood Dental Associates, we're proud to help the children of Maplewood, MN achieve gorgeous smiles through comprehensive early dental care. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your child achieve a great smile or to schedule an appointment at our Maplewood dental office. We can't wait to hear from you!