Taking Care of Your Child's Teeth

by Dr. Zhaomin Zoe Huang 5. September 2011 20:42

Everyone has two sets of teeth during lifetime. The first set is called primary teeth, baby teeth, which typically begin to appear when a baby is between age six months and one year. Primary teeth help children chew and speak. They also hold spaces in the jaws for the second set of teeth, permanent teeth, to come in. There are 20 primary teeth, followed by 32 permanent teeth that will eventually replace them. Your child should have all his or her primary teeth by age 3 and will keep them until age 5 or 6, when they begin to loosen and fall out. This process usually lasts until the child is 12 or 13. Primary teeth fall out because permanent teeth are pushing them, and by about age 14 children have 28 permanent teeth. As for the additional four teeth, called wisdom teeth, grow behind the permanent teeth in late adolescence.

The eruption sequence of primary and permanent teeth is as follows.

 How can I protect my child’s oral health at home?

Parents should provide their child’s oral hygiene until the child is old enough to take responsibility for the daily routine of brushing and flossing. According to American Dental Association (ADA) and Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), a proper regimen of preventive home care should include the following tips:

  • Clean your infants gums with a clean, damp cloth or gauze after each feeding

  • As soon as the first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and water. If you are considering using toothpaste before your child’s second birthday, ask your dentist first.

  • Brush the teeth of children over age two with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure that they spit out the toothpaste and rinse with water.

  • Help a young child brush at night, the most important time to brush, due to lower salivary flow and higher susceptibility to cavities. Perhaps let the child brush their teeth first to build self-confidence, then the parent can follow up to ensure that all plaque is removed. Usually by age 5 or so, the child can learn to brush his or her own teeth with proper parental instruction.

  • As soon as child’s teeth are in contact to each other, start flossing for your child. Because flossing can get rid of the plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) and food debris between the teeth. By the time your child heads to school, he should be flossing on his own. Ideally, you want your child to floss every day at bedtime. At the minimum, make sure he flosses twice a week.

  • To avoid baby bottle tooth decay and teeth misalignment due to sucking, try to wean your child off of the breast and bottle by one year of age, and monitor excessive sucking of pacifiers, fingers and thumbs.

  •  Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice or sweetened liquids.

  • Avoid filling your child’s bottle with liquids like sugar water and soft drinks.

  • The best way to teach a child how to brush is to lead by good example. Allowing your child to watch you brush and floss your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene.

When should my child first see a dentist?

Taking your child to the dentist at an early age is the best way to prevent oral health problems. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that a dentist examine a child within six months after the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday. A dental visit at an early age is a "well baby checkup" for the teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean the child's teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumbsucking. Early dental visits will help to familiarize your child with the dental office, reduce anxiety and fear, and make visits much stress-free in the future.

You can find more oral health information in the following website links.

American Dental Association

Academy of General Dentistry

American Academy of Pediatrics

Teach your children how to maintain good oral health will benefit them for life. So start early!

Zhaomin (Zoe) Huang, DMD MS


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About Dr. Zhaomin (Zoe) Huang


Dr. Zhaomin (Zoe) Huang is very passionate about helping people live the best out their lives with healthy and beautiful smiles. She believes that helping her patients receive the least amount of denstistry is the best way of practicing dentistry. That's why Dr. Huang focus on early prevention. With a Master degree in Preventive Denstitry, Dr. Huang understands the importance of early intervention. She spent lots of time in educating patients with good oral habits that can benefit them for lifetime.

Growing up in China, Dr. Huang was fortunate to have experience living and working in two different countries. These has allowed her to have unique perspectives and appreciation for different cultures. Dr. Huang values building long-term relationships with her patients. She listen to her patients, and always tries to tailor dental care to individual patient's needs.

Dr. Huang is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Dental Association and California Dental Association.  She stays on the cutting edge of dentistry by attending hundreds of continuing education courses every year. Trained by world-renowned cosmetic and implant dentists, Dr. Huang has helped many patients achieve their dream smiles. Please visit www.liveandsmiledental.com to view the before and afters and hear about how patients raving about Dr. Huang.

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