February is National Children’s Dental Health Month.  In the spirit of Children’s Dental Health Month we wanted to bring you some information that we feel is important for you to know.  We often get many questions from parents about their children’s developing smile regarding what to expect and how best to care for them.  Below is more information that can be helpful as you help your child maintain proper oral health as they grow.

The Growing Years: From Birth to Six…

People usually think of a newborn baby as having no teeth, but the 20 primary teeth that will erupt in the next three years are already present at birth in the baby’s jawbones.  A baby’s front four teeth usually erupt first, typically at about six months of age- although some children do not get their first tooth until 12 to 14 months.  As soon as teeth appear in your child’s mouth, decay can occur. One of the risk factors for early childhood cavities (sometimes referred to as baby bottle tooth decay) is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids containing sugar; including milk, breast milk, formula and fruit juice.  It is very important to remember that you should schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist at around 1 year old or when they start getting their first teeth.

As our children grow, a good diet is essential for growth and development.  Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet.  Our children’s pre-school years are an important time to help establish good eating habits.  Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups; fruits, vegetables, breads and other grain products, milk, meats and alternates, such as dry beans and peas, eggs and nuts.

The Growing Years: From Six to 12…

At about age six, although sometimes it may start earlier, children begin to lose their front teeth on top and bottom.  During the next six years or so, permanent teeth gradually will replace the primary teeth.  The first molars usually erupt between ages five and six.  It is at this time that Dental Sealants are recommended to keep these teeth protected for the long life they have ahead; because these will be the oldest teeth in our children’s mouth when they reach adulthood.  These teeth will have been exposed to a lot more decay causing elements than all the other teeth.  A sealant is a plastic material that is applied to the chewing surface of healthy, cavity-free premolars and molars, where decay occurs most often. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting the decay- prone areas of the back teeth from plaque and acid attacks.

The Growing Year: From 12 to adulthood…

From age 12 continuing on to adulthood are crucial ages to maintain optimal oral health.  Regular dental visits are vital to keeping a healthy smile, for at these visits the dentist examines our children’s mouth for tooth decay and growth or proper development conditions that could possibly pose a problem in the future.  At these ages, the last of the permanent teeth are erupting and constantly shifting; which can lead to malocclusion or an “improper bite.”  This is a condition which the teeth are crowded, crooked, or out of proper alignment.  If this is the situation, an orthodontic evaluation is recommended; early examination and treatment may help prevent and reduce the severity of malocclusion.  Orthodontics not only helps move teeth to their proper places, but also because your child’s teeth will be in the correct position, they will be easier to keep clean and cavity free. Let’s all work together to ensure that nothing, including tooth decay, malocclusion, and gum disease is standing in our children’s way of achieving and maintaining optimal oral health.

Remember Mom and Dad, good oral health habits begin at home with you.  As you well know, your children are constantly watching and learning from you.  Studies have shown that children whose parents have poor oral health habits and do not visit the dentist regularly will grow up with the same belief and neglect their oral health.  Poor oral health has been linked to serious health conditions including heart disease and diabetes.  Let’s all work together to be role models and teachers for our children and encourage good oral health so that wonderful smile that warms your heart will last for their lifetime!

Tips to maintain Tip Top Teeth throughout you Child’s life:

  • Infants and Toddlers: After every feeding, wipe your baby’s gums either with a clean, wet gauze pad or a washcloth. This removes plaque and residual food that can harm erupting teeth.
  • Toddlers: Brush and floss your child’s teeth until the child has developed the necessary skills to do so themselves.
  • Bring your child with to your next dental reservation so they may become acquainted and comfortable with the office, the dentist and the staff. Also schedule your child’s first reservation with the dentist early (around 1 year old)…Good habits can never start too early!

About HPS Advanced Dental Care, PC

Dr. Heather Pranzarone Stratton is a Family and Cosmetic Dentist practicing with a Biological and Biocompatible philosophy in Shelby Township, Michigan. Our practice provides a full range of Family and Cosmetic Dentistry services for your entire family including, professional cleanings and oral cancer screenings, tooth restoration, porcelain veneers, crowns, bridges, root canal therapy, tooth whitening, and dentures.  We are a mercury free and mercury safe dental practice and latex free practice.  HPS Advanced Dental Care, PC easily serves Macomb and Oakland Counties.  We are easily accessible from many metro Detroit cities including: Shelby Township, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Macomb Township, Oakland Township, Washington, Birmingham, Troy, Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, and many more.