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BABY TEETH - are they really that important?

So many people for so many years have believed that "Baby Teeth" are not that important. After all they're just going to fall out anyway. But these teeth have very important functions. They allow a child to properly chew their food for proper nutrition and physical development, they contribute to the development of proper speech ... many of the sounds we make rely on the placement of the tongue or lips into contact with the teeth, they are affected by and can affect the development of proper airway space for breathing, and they serve as guides for the proper spacing of the permanent teeth. If these teeth become decayed and aren't repaired in a timely manner, the adjacent teeth can drift and shift position and we can lose much of the room being reserved for the permanent teeth as they come into position.


It is now recommended that a child's first dental visit be within six months of the eruption of the first baby tooth, or by their first birthday. This would be a non-threatening examination done to allow the dentist a chance to identify any potential problems before they develop, to expose the child to the dental office atmosphere, and very importantly to explain proper tooth/mouth care to parents and answer any questions they might have.


Very early on, get your child in the habit of having you clean their mouth. Even before the teeth appear you can wipe their gums with guaze or a damp cloth. Once the first tooth shows up, start using an infant tooth brush with very soft bristles to clean the teeth at least once, ideally twice each day. If you use tooth paste at this stage, use one that does not contain fluoride at least until 3 years old. Teach your child to rinse and spit the toothpaste out after they are done. When the teeth that are present start to touch each other, it is a good idea to start to floss the teeth daily as well. Most children do not have the dexterity to do a good job and therefore I recommend that parents brush and floss their children's teeth at least once a day. I brushed and flossed my kid's teeth every night until they were about 8 years old. It was not always easy, but I believe it helped them develop good oral care habits.


A well-balanced diet is the best recommendation for developing teeth. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, vitamins, minerals ... Use caution around sweets, especially sticky foods like dried fruit, chewy candies, sweet sticky rolls and buns. Sticky foods take longer to clear from the mouth and stay in contact with the teeth longer and are therefore more dangerous to healthy teeth. Keep snack frequency to a minimum (not often and frequent) and be careful at bedtimes for infants and babies. Juice, even watered down juice, and milk contain sugars. It is best if you are putting your babies down in their cribs with a bottle at night that you get them used to drinking water.


I recommend that a young person start by visiting the dental office somewhere between every 6 months and every 9 months. It is good to have your dentist keep an eye on the developing dentition and be sure to prevent and treat dental problems while they are small and unlikely to impact the developing permanent teeth. With proper care your child can grow up with a positive mental attitude about their teeth, the dental office, and the dentist. This can help them have a healthy and happy life.

Yours for better health,

Dr. Marty Frankel
Smiles by Design
3030- 3080 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario
M4N 1T7