It's important to teach your child good oral hygiene habits early, because cavities can start even before babies have visible teeth! Babies have 20 primary teeth that are already present in the jaws when they're born. Primary teeth start coming in around 6 months of age, and create a healthy foundation for adult teeth by maintaining space in the jaw.
Do Baby Teeth Really Matter?
If a primary (baby) tooth is lost too early, the permanent (adult) teeth can start to move into the empty space and make it difficult for the other permanent teeth to find room when they come in. This leads to crooked or crowded teeth. Starting your baby off with the best oral care can lead to a lifelong healthy smile. Remember, both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that your child have their first visit no later than age two.
How Do Cavities Start?
Cavities form when germs that feed on sugar and produce acid begin to eat away at the tooth enamel. If left untreated, cavities can continue to develop into the dentin and eventually the pulp, which can cause your child pain.
Babies are born without these harmful bacteria in their mouth, and studies have proven that parents typically infect their children before age 2. Bacteria is transferred when parents eat from the same eating utensil as their baby, or when they hold their toddler's pacifier in their mouth. If parents have had cavities themselves, they are more likely to have cavity-causing germs to pass along.
For a downloadable form from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that talks more about early childhood cavities, click here.