It is a little known fact that the care of primary teeth (often called baby teeth) is vital to the long term health of permanent teeth (often called adult teeth). We recommend that a child have their first dental visit by the age of 2, but there are many things parents can do even before that first visit.
Parents should start cleaning a child’s mouth even before they have teeth. This helps to get into the habit of maintaining good oral care for the parent, as well as allows a clean place for the primary teeth to come into. Cleaning can be performed with a baby brush or a damp washcloth where the goal is to wipe all of the gum and tooth surfaces.
All 20 of a child’s primary teeth should come in by age 2 or 3. If your child is experiencing discomfort during the teething process you can massage the gums with a clean finger or with the back of a cold spoon for added relief. What you shouldn’t do is rub painkillers on your child’s gum as there is a risk they may swallow it. Teething biscuits should also not be used as they contain sugars which can cause cavities. Cavities are the number one problem young children have with their teeth. Maintaining a clean mouth is vital to avoiding cavities but note that toothpaste shouldn’t be used until a child has teeth. Children under 3 years of age should have their teeth brushed by an adult with a minimal amount of toothpaste (half the size of a grain of rice). After that, children should be assisted in brushing their teeth and the portion size of the toothpaste should increase to half the size of a green pea.
Lastly, it is important that your child have their teeth brushed every night to avoid cavities. If they don’t brush their teeth, the bacteria has all night to wreak havoc on their mouths.