Baby teeth are important too

  • Published
  • By Capt. (Dr.) Kelly Ramey
  • 22nd Aerospace Medical Squadron dental flight
In support of National Children's Dental Health Month, members of the 22nd Medical Group Dental Clinic will visit Wineteer Elementary School, McConnell's Child Development Center and it's after school program throughout the month of February to discuss proper oral hygiene and healthy eating habits

The visit will instruct children about the importance of primary teeth, commonly known as baby teeth, and how they are significant for chewing, speaking and appearance.

As a baby, primary teeth usually erupt first in the front two upper and two lower teeth, often as early as six months. Babies often experience sore gums while their teeth are erupting. Gently rubbing an infant's gums or giving them a cool, teething ring to chew on may be soothing. A fever is not normal during teething. Most children have all their baby teeth by the three years of age.

As soon as these teeth erupt, decay can start to develop. One of the main risk factors for decay is sipping on liquids containing sugar, like sweetened water and fruit juice. Avoid putting a baby or child to bed with a bottle containing a sugary drink, including milk.

Brushing your infant's teeth can also help prevent early tooth decay. Gently brushing an infant's teeth with a child-size toothbrush and water at least twice a day is recommended.

Most adult toothpastes are not recommended for younger children due to their fluoride content, which can be harmful to an infant's teeth. Parents are asked to review the manufacturer's label or ask their dentist for a recommendation.

Despite a parent's best efforts, a baby tooth is sometimes lost early due to decay or trauma. If a baby tooth is lost too early, neighboring teeth can tip or move into that space causing crowding when the permanent tooth is erupting. Dentists may recommend a space maintainer to prevent teeth from shifting and closing space prematurely.

To help prevent tooth decay and overcrowding teeth, parents are reminded to visit with their dentist regularly, which is a key step in maintaining good dental health. A baby's first dental visit is recommended within six months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than the baby's first birthday. This appointment begins to build a positive relationship between the baby and dentist.

For more information regarding children dental health topics, visit the dental display at the base CDC and dental clinic. Additional articles will available in the base newspaper or at

Contributing source: American Dental Association