10 Baby Teeth Myths—Busted!
You might think that baby teeth don’t matter because “they’re
just going to fall out anyway”, but think again! There are a lot of myths about baby teeth out there, so we’re going to set the record straight. Listed below are our top 10 myths about baby teeth.
Myth #1: Baby teeth aren’t important.
“They are just going to fall out anyway”!
Fact: Your child’s baby teeth (also called primary teeth) will eventually be replaced by a permanent tooth. Baby teeth are important because they reserve or help hold the space until the permanent tooth grows in place. On average, your child will not lose their last baby teeth until they’re between ten and twelve years old. That’s too long to not care for teeth.
Additionally, baby teeth are just as important as permanent teeth as they help your child to chew and talk. A healthy smile will also help prevent your child from feelings of embarrassment from their friends and/or school bullies.
Regardless of age, a person’s smile is important and has an impact on one’s self-confidence.
Myth #2: Cavities in baby teeth don’t matter.
Fact: A dental cavity is also called tooth decay. Left untreated a dental cavity can cause a painful toothache for your child. A dental appointment scheduled to resolve a toothache is not an ideal dental experience and leaves a lasting impression no matter your age, even more so for the child. As a parent, you do not want your child to develop a fear or associate a dental visit as a painful or fearful event.
Furthermore, a dental cavity is a bacterial infection that can spread through the bloodstream and negatively impact your child’s general health.
Myth #3: You don’t need to brush or floss baby teeth.
Fact: Teeth, baby or permanent, should be brushed for two minutes, two times daily. Sugars and carbohydrates from consumed foods and beverages mix with the saliva (watery substance) in the mouth creating a sticky, colorless film on the teeth called dental plaque.
Dental plaque contains harmful bacteria that can weaken the outermost layer of a tooth called tooth enamel. Toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing will remove plaque from smooth tooth surfaces as well as help strengthen tooth enamel. Just like toothbrushing, dental flossing serves the same purpose as toothbrushing but instead cleans hard to reach surfaces in between teeth where toothbrush bristles cannot reach effectively.
Myth #4: Babies don’t need to see a dentist till they have permanent teeth.
Fact: Baby teeth are equally important as permanent teeth. Similar to permanent teeth, baby teeth are used to chew food, talk, and aid in the digestion of meals and snacks.
The American Dental Association along with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that your child’s teeth and gums be visually examined following the eruption of their first tooth. For most, this will likely be performed during a wellness checkup with your child’s pediatrician.
Dr. Cretzmeyer encourages parents to bring their child along to their preventive teeth cleaning appointment. This will provide your child a positive introduction to the unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells in a dental office. Many kids quickly become fascinated by the tools and ask to help the dental hygienist clean their mom or dad’s teeth. This results in a fantastic first experience! Additionally, your child will say YES! when given the opportunity to take a dental chair ride and have their teeth
counted after mom/dad’s appointment has finished.
Myth #5: My child can brush her own teeth.
Fact: Effective teeth brushing and flossing requires fine motor skills, many of which are not well developed until grade school. Until this time, your dentist and/or pediatrician will encourage you as a parent to assist your child.
Dentistry for the Entire Family encourages parents to develop a daily routine that enables your child to brush their teeth first without any assistance followed by mom/dad’s turn to reach all the “hard spots”. This time not only teaches your child the importance of daily dental care, it also is a great one to one bonding time.
This is an ongoing myth that is widely contested by many parents convinced that their child can in fact effectively brush and floss their teeth without parental assistance. Two researchers conducted a compelling toothbrushing study whose results showed how much dental plaque was effectively removed after brushing and flossing without help. The results are shown below.
- 5-year-olds only brushed 25% of the surfaces of their teeth
- 11-year-olds only brushed 50% of the surfaces of their teeth
- 18-22-year-olds brushed 67% of the surfaces of their teeth
It is not until children are older do they develop the necessary fine motor skills necessary to effectively brush and floss their teeth. Electric toothbrushes are an incredible tool for parents to consider for their kids to help them improve the effectiveness their daily oral care.
Myth #6: I don’t need to take my child to the dentist until they start school.
Fact: This is 100% untrue. There is no remote association between a child’s first dental visit and when a child starts school. This myth likely surfaced because many schools either require or strongly recommend your child have their teeth examined by a dentist before starting school. Many school officials believe that if a child can cooperate and sit for a dental appointment, they’ll be able to take direction and thrive in a classroom environment. Additionally, teachers want to ensure that kids are attentive and not distracted by a painful toothache.
Myth #7: Fluoride isn’t safe to swallow and may harm my child.
Fact: Fluoride is a mineral naturally found in the earth’s surface. Almost all water contains some level of naturally occurring fluoride. Fluoride helps to strengthen the outermost surface of the tooth called enamel. Fluoride helps prevent tooth enamel from demineralization which can lead to tooth decay.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention proclaim community water fluoridation as one of the ten greatest public achievements of the 20th century. Numerous studies conclude that community fluoridated water has been shown to reduce tooth decay by 25% for children and adults (Source: CDC).
Critics of dental fluoride argue that fluoride is a highly poisonous and toxic substance capable of causing cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease to name a few. What many critics fail to point out is that each of their claims is unsubstantiated. For cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease is complex, multifactorial medical conditions with not one single known entity or cause.This is important, especially since children whose parents intentionally abstained from exposing their children to dental fluoride have not been immune to developing cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases that critics claim.
Important note: Bottled water is not the same as tap water. Bottled and filtered water does not contain dental fluoride. If you have switched to drinking bottled water and/or have installed a reverse osmosis (RO) water system in your home, know that the fluoride ion is not present and has been filtered out unless the bottle label states otherwise. If you’re unsure, have
your water tested for confirmation. Dentistry for the Entire Family has water test kits available. Most testing labs charge a nominal fee.
Myth #8: My child doesn’t need to floss till her permanent teeth are in.
Fact: As soon as your child has two teeth that are touching, is the time they need to start flossing. Floss is a flat, ribbon-like, and flexible material designed to slide up and down the sides of a tooth to removes harmful dental plaque and trapped food particles. Any left behind dental plaque and food particles will ferment and can cause tooth decay and bad breath.
While floss picks are a great beginner floss tool that helps introduce your child to the concept of flossing, we recommend for parents to use traditional string floss or a Waterpik when flossing their child’s teeth. By simply relying on toothbrushing alone, you’re missing out on cleaning almost 35% of each tooth’s surfaces.
Myth #9: It’s okay for my child to suck their thumb.
Fact: Thumbsucking is okay up until your child starts kindergarten. Around this time, your child’s first permanent teeth will begin erupting. The forces of thumbsucking can cause your child’s first emerging permanent teeth to move and cause crowding or an overbite. An overbite is a condition in which the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw, causing the top teeth to overextend the bottom teeth.
Myth #10: Diet soda won’t cause tooth decay because it doesn’t have sugar in it.
Fact: According to research conducted by the Minnesota Dental Association, approximately 20% of all one and two-year-olds drink soda pop. Many parents may give their child a sugar-free soda, thinking it is better and are often surprised to learn that diet soda can be just as harmful as regular varieties of soda.
Why? Soda regardless of formulation contains citric acid. The acid causes the outermost surface of the tooth called enamel to erode. Frequent and/or prolonged exposures to erosive, acidic beverages like a soda can cause tooth decay.
Dentistry for the Entire Family advises parents to limit soda consumption and instead encourages parents to offer water. Need a sweet alternative? Try infusing a pitcher of water with your child’s favorite fruits. It’s a great sweet and refreshing alternative to soda.
That being said, if your child is going to drink soda, the best time to drink soda is with a meal. The acid in the soda will be reduced
in combination with lower acid foods. Additionally, have your child drink soda through a straw. This helps to minimize teeth’s exposure to soda acid. And lastly, encourage your child to drink a glass of water following their meal. Water helps to neutralize acid in the mouth.
Need any more myths debunked? We can help!
If you have any questions regarding your child’s oral health, don’t hesitate to call (763) 586-9988 or ask us at your next visit.
We love any opportunity to help!