What Parents Need to Know About Baby Teeth

"a baby in a stroller with shiny teeth because she just went to the dentist"    Illustration and Title by Austin J. B.

"a baby in a stroller with shiny teeth because she just went to the dentist"

Illustration and Title by Austin J. B.

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Parents ask me why they should care about baby teeth since they’re going to fall out anyway.

Baby teeth are important to your child’s physical, emotional and social development. And, if your child’s baby teeth are not kept healthy, the permanent teeth will be more susceptible to cavities and dental problems forever.

Baby teeth can get cavities. Large cavities and abscesses in baby teeth establish a bacterial petri dish affecting the eruption of permanent teeth.

Baby teeth are placeholders, saving space for properly aligned adult teeth. Permanent teeth develop and grow underneath baby teeth until they’re ready to break through the gums.

You might be surprised to learn that you should start caring for your child’s teeth while they’re still in the womb! My published research shows that the mother’s diet during pregnancy influences the child’s life-long taste preference for sweets. That preference can lead to poor oral health beginning in infancy.

You can find more information about the importance of baby teeth here.

Flossing Tips for Parents of Toddlers

Dr Sara’s Sound Bites Blog features content about dental health for children, along with fun features, drawings and stories from our pediatric dentistry patients. Your comments are welcome.

Self portrait by patient, Ayla K.

Self portrait by patient, Ayla K.

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Until the age of six or seven, children don’t have the manual dexterity to floss or brush their teeth properly. Here are some tips on how you can help.

1) When teeth are not contacting one another, then simple brushing by the parent will do.

2) Flossing should begin only when the teeth make contact with one another. 

3) When teeth erupt and make contact with one another, (i.e., no large spaces between teeth), then the parent or caregiver must do the flossing for the toddler. 

4) Many products make flossing easier. We can help you find the right one for your child.

5) We are happy to review these techniques with our family of patients at our child-friendly Upper East Side office.