Why it’s important to take care of baby teeth as much as adult teeth

You might not think baby teeth should be a concern—they’re going to fall out and be replaced anyway, right? But the reality is, learning good dental hygiene starts young, and if you wait until your child has lost their baby teeth to start them on this path, it might be too late. Here’s what you should be aware of.

The Importance of Taking Care of Your Child’s Oral Health

Dental decay is the most prominent chronic disease found in children—and it’s entirely preventable with good dental hygiene starting early. The Canadian Dental Association notes that tooth decay makes up a full third of surgeries found in children aged 1 to 5. Dental issues can be completely avoided if you make dental care a priority from the start.

What Are the Most Common Dental Issues in Children?

Tooth Decay

As noted, decay is the largest medical problem among young children, and happens from prolonged exposure to liquids other than water, such as milk and juice—especially when drank from a baby bottle. Using warm milk or juice in the bottle instead of a pacifier should be avoided, but if it can’t, always make sure to brush their teeth before they fall asleep with a mouth full of sugar.

Tongue Thrusting

Tongue thrusting is how babies avoid choking on or aspirating food, and how they latch onto the nipple when breastfeeding—but if they continue this habit past infancy, they can develop tooth alignment and speech development issues.

Premature Tooth Loss

Primary teeth exist to hold space for adult teeth to eventually come in. If decay or other issues lead to early tooth loss of baby teeth, this can create issues for the permanent teeth, allowing them to drift into the empty space where they may not erupt normally or can get stuck in the bone.


Tooth grinding is a common issue in children, especially during sleep or when they are going through a period of stress—but most will outgrow it quickly. If it continues once they have their permanent teeth this can lead to serious tooth damage. It’s important to see a dentist if they are having these issues later in childhood.

Dental Emergencies

Since children engage in rough play and sports, dental emergencies are a common situation. It can come in the form of cracked teeth, chipped teeth, or a tooth fully coming out. If a permanent tooth does fall out you can save it by putting the tooth in a glass of milk, saline solution or water and heading immediately to the emergency dentist—where they may be able to put the tooth back in the socket.

Gum Disease

You might think this is reserved for adults, but children can suffer from this issue too if care is not taken to brush and floss regularly. It begins with gingivitis, which is easy to spot with red swollen gums and light bleeding when brushing. If you notice the signs, be sure to make sure your child is brushing regularly.

Prolonged Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking and pacifier use is a common way to reduce anxiety in babies and toddlers, but if this continues past that stage it can lead to an open bite—where the upper front teeth don’t come together with the bottom teeth.

Dental Anxiety

Most adults with dental anxiety developed this fear as children. For many, the idea of a trip to the dentist doesn’t sound like a fun time, but children respond to their environment and the adults around them, so if you and the dentist present it as a fun experience, perhaps with something else to look forward to after—they can avoid developing this into a lifelong issue.


Oral Health Tips for Kids

Develop a Routine Early and Stick With It

The younger a child learns proper dental habits, the sooner they become ingrained habits. Once it’s part of their routine, it will become automatic and won’t require much effort on your part. Create a dental hygiene routine at the same time every day and your child will start to expect it instead of resisting it.

Take Them to The Dentist When They Are Young

The older a child becomes, the more fear they will have around new intimidating experiences. Take them to the dentist young when they are still open to new experiences, let them see it is a safe and happy place so they avoid developing anxiety around the dentist. They might even look forward to it!

Lead by Example

Don’t expect them to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. You should be going to the dentist regularly, and more importantly, you should model good dental behaviour by brushing and flossing in front of them daily, so they understand it is a good and positive habit. Young children tend to mimic their parents, so help them mimic your good dental hygiene.

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do for your child is model good dental hygiene—brush your teeth together so it becomes a routine they look forward to doing with you.