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Early Children’s Dental Care – Helena, MT

It’s Never Too Early to See the Dentist

Taking care of your child’s teeth right from the very beginning is one of the best ways to give their smile a strong start. Of course, as all parents know, babies don’t exactly come with instruction manuals! That’s why Dr. Matthew Coplin is ready to arm you with the knowledge of how to look after your child’s teeth from the moment they start to come in. Below, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions parents ask us every day, and if you have more, just give us a call, and we’ll be more than happy to help you!


Toddler using teething ring

Your baby’s first teeth will usually start to come in around the age of 6-12 months. This will likely make their gums a bit sore and tender, and thus make your child a bit irritable, until all of their baby teeth have come in by about age three. You can help mitigate this discomfort by gently rubbing their gums with your finger, a cold spoon, or a wet cloth. Teething rings can help during this process as well, but we recommend avoiding teething biscuits, as they contain sugar that isn’t good for your child.

While they are teething, it’s important to keep an eye on your child’s teeth for baby bottle tooth decay. Make sure you take a close look at their teeth, particularly on the inside (or tongue side) every two weeks. Look for discolored spots that stand out from the rest of their teeth.

Your child can develop this problem if they keep a bottle in their mouth for a long time that has anything in it other than water, as it exposes their teeth to harmful sugars for an extended period of time. This problem most often occurs if a child sleeps with a bottle in their mouth. Every time your child’s teeth are exposed to sugar, it reacts with the bacteria in their mouth to create acidic plaque, which starts breaking down their enamel. Typically, your baby’s saliva will help mitigate this, but while they are asleep, their saliva production will go down, leaving their teeth more vulnerable.

Infant’s New Teeth

Closeup of emerging baby teeth

Your child’s primary, or “baby,” teeth play a very important role in their oral development. They need them to chew food properly as well as develop the ability to speak clearly. They also help guide the development of the jaw and create a straight path for the adult teeth that will eventually come in around age six.

Because the baby teeth are so vital to the adult teeth coming in straight, children who prematurely lose their teeth may need to wear what is called a space maintainer, which is a small device that helps keep the path clear for an adult tooth. Without it, a child’s teeth may shift and misalign, causing the adult tooth to come in crooked or not at all. To prevent this from happening, whenever your child loses a tooth, be sure to give us a call.

It’s also important to have your child develop consistent oral hygiene habits while they still have baby teeth so they will take good care of their adult ones. Children are vulnerable to many of the same dental problems as adults regardless of which set of teeth they have, so it is paramount that they brush and floss every day as well as come to see us here at Kalmor Dental at least twice a year.

A Child’s First Dental Visit

Baby receiving dental exam

You should schedule your child’s first dental visit around the time they turn one year old. When they come to see us, our focus will mostly be on helping them feel comfortable in the dental office as well as with Dr. Coplin. This will help make any future dental appointments much easier. If possible, their first appointment will be done while your child sits in your lap, which will consist of a brief exam and maybe a cleaning.

Why Primary Teeth Are Important

Young boy receiving dental exam

Your child’s primary teeth serve several important functions that we touched on above. They enable your child to start eating solid foods as well as help them develop the capacity to speak. They also directly influence how the adult teeth come in as well as how your child’s mouth develops. Taking care of their primary teeth is an easy way to put them on the path for a lifetime of healthy, beautiful smiles.

Good Diet and Healthy Teeth

Little girl with missing teeth

As with adults, a child’s diet plays a big factor in their dental health. For most children, the key to a tooth-friendly diet is simply to limit the amount of sugary treats and drinks they consume, as all the added sugar can lead to cavities. Items like crunchy vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and cheeses can even bolster their dental health because they are rich in minerals that can help strengthen the teeth.

Infant Tooth Eruption

Smiling baby during dental chekcup

Your child’s teeth actually start forming while they are still in the womb! After being born, when they reach four months of age, their lower central incisors will likely be the first teeth to erupt, followed by the upper central incisors. Your child will end up having 20 primary teeth in all, and they should have all come in by the time they are three years old.

Their permanent teeth will then start to come in around age six, starting with the molars. They will continue to come in until your child reaches the age of 21. Adults typically have 28 teeth, or 32 if you include the wisdom teeth (which usually need to be removed).

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby drinking from a bottle

Baby bottle tooth decay occurs most often when a child falls asleep with a bottle in their mouth that has something other than water in it. This exposes their teeth to sugar for hours on end, which can lead to numerous cavities. You can help them avoid this by not letting your baby sleep with their bottle or making sure it only has water if there is a chance they are going to fall asleep with it.

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