Oh boy. Where do we even start? The internet is certainly a fantastic place, and it can brim with misinformation. Furthermore, many parents hear some things from caring relatives and neighbors that only fuel dangerous misconceptions about baby teeth and their proper care. Let’s review some baby teeth myths and what you should be doing to help your child enjoy good dental health.
Baby teeth, often known as milk teeth or primary teeth, are the temporary dental pieces that first come into your baby’s mouth before their permanent ones erupt. Usually, some of them will fall off before your child is six years old, and you might already be thinking of placing them under the pillow and giving them to the tooth fairy.
You might be interested in learning more about the weird history of the tooth fairy here.
We want to make sure that we use all our knowledge and experience to fight baseless rumors that can confuse well-intentioned parents. While many myths are harmless, they could lead you to neglect your kids’ dental care and promote unwanted damage to their vital baby teeth.
#1 Baby Teeth Aren’t Important
Ok. Who started saying this? We really can’t understand why people might say that baby teeth are not important. Actually, yes we can. Many individuals believe baby teeth are not important because they will just “fall out anyway.” Since we don’t keep our baby teeth forever, some parents don’t pay much attention to their care.
The case is quite the contrary. These primary teeth serve as placeholders for your kids’ developing dental structures. They help develop proper speech and eating habits for every growing kid. Furthermore, they help maintain the mouth’s proper structure. Primary teeth maintain the natural separation and position of surrounding pieces to guide the eruption of permanent teeth.
Without healthy baby teeth, your child might develop orthodontic problems prematurely. Any lost baby teeth leave a vacant space that could promote drift in the surrounding teeth’ position, leading to dental crowding and dental hygiene complications. Misaligned bites can be quite costly to fix, which is why your pediatric dentist will focus so much on proper dental care at an early age.
Likewise, you risk hindering your kids’ healthy development due to problems with their chewing motion. Missing teeth make eating food more complicated; in turn, problems with child nutrition lead to developmental and overall health complications. We don’t want any of that. So, please, take care of your kids’ teeth with the help of professionals like our team at Kid’s Healthy Teeth.
#2 Cavities in Baby Teeth Do Not Matter
This myth stems sort of like from the same place as the previous one. Dismissing cavities in baby teeth is just as bad as believing that primary teeth are not important.
Just because primary teeth will eventually fall off, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything in our power to keep them as healthy as possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 45.8% of all US kids aged between 2 and 9 years had suffered from some type of tooth decay.
Tooth decay is as prevalent as it is worrying in baby teeth because it can easily lead to the development of dangerous dental caries. Cavities, in turn, are not just a cosmetic problem but rather represent a deep underlying problem. When left untreated, cavities serve as entryways for dangerous bacteria that can cause pain, discomfort, and even life-threatening infections or abscesses.
Once they enter your kids’ teeth’ pulp, the bacteria might hitch a ride through the blood vessels and spread infections to the rest of their body.
Some parents also think that cavities are just a genetic thing they can’t fight against. Instead, we want you to know that while there is a small genetic influence in determining kids’ teeth susceptibility to tooth decay, the problem is almost exclusively the result of preventable bad dental hygiene habits.
Please help your child clean their teeth properly, reinforce their dental health with professional treatments such as dental sealants and fluoride applications, and don’t share your eating utensils with your kids if you suffer from cavities. This dental health problem may not be hereditary, but cavities are contagious under the right circumstances.
Bonus Myth: Placing Aspirin on a Toothache will Alleviate the Pain
This is an interesting one. We appreciate the enthusiasm that leads to creating these popular old wives’ tales, but we also should dispel this outright: pain relievers do not work like that. Instead, it works by entering the bloodstream through the intestines and blocking the production of certain chemicals in the body that could cause pain. Aspirin and other pain relievers can only work once they’ve entered the bloodstream, so placing an Aspirin next to a sore tooth won’t work. If your kid complains of toothaches, make sure you set an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Katy so your child can get the proper treatment.
#3 There’s No Need to Brush Baby Teeth
We’re so glad we’ve gotten a chance to review these. No. You shouldn’t neglect good dental hygiene and stop brushing your kids’ teeth. Parents should help their babies clean and brush their teeth as soon as they start teething.
Remember all the things we said about tooth decay while debunking the previous myth? Well, good habits in dental hygiene help promote a lifetime of good dental health. Parents should even begin oral care before their kid’s first tooth erupts. You can use a soft damp rag and rub it against your baby’s gums to clean up and reduce anything that can help harmful bacteria grow.
Some parents are also afraid to brush and floss their kids’ teeth because it might cause bleeding gums, and they don’t wish to alarm their children. The truth is quite the opposite. If your child suffers from bleeding gums, you could try using a soft-bristled toothbrush, but never stop brushing their teeth altogether.
Please continue to help your child brush their teeth, and you will gradually remove anything that is irritating your child’s gums. If the bleeding continues, take your child to the dentist for help. You might also want to review this other blog post about 4 common causes of child bleeding gums.
When Should You Brush Your Child’s Teeth?
As we mentioned, you should brush your child’s teeth as soon as their first tooth appears. Some parents might be surprised to know that brushing teeth immediately after a meal can harm teeth. The thing is that this is true only under specific circumstances.
If your kid recently enjoyed a citric treat, such as their favorite orange for a summer day snack, they should hold a bit before they brush their teeth. The natural acids in some foods can wear down the protective enamel layer. Give it some time so your kids’ body uses saliva naturally to wash away some of the particles and stop the enamel erosion. Give it an hour, tops, and then help your child brush their teeth for at least 2 minutes.
Besides, you can click here to learn everything you need about saliva.
#4 Kids Don’t Need to See a Dentist Until They Are Older
A common problem with parents, especially first-time parents, is that they don’t consider taking their babies to the dentist until they spot a problem with their kids’ teeth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that parents bring a child to their first dental visit as soon as the first tooth emerges or by their first birthday.
If you help establish that the dentist is not a scary place for your child early on, you will ensure that they have a more positive experience during their first and every visit; developing a trusting relationship with the dentist is crucial to ensuring your kids’ good dental development.
Visit Your Katy Pediatric Dentist
Do you have questions about your baby’s teeth? Don’t hesitate to ask our pediatric dentist in Katy! We would love to talk to you about any questions or concerns you might have.