Caring for Children’s Teeth

Your child’s teeth are essential to their health and development. To help keep them on the right track, Dr. Curtis Godfrey invites you to read the information below on what you can do to properly care for your child’s teeth. If you have any questions and would like to schedule an appointment with our dentist in Idaho Falls, Idaho, please contact Excellence in Dentistry at 208-529-4321.

Primary Teeth (Baby Teeth)

Primary teeth eventually are lost. However, early loss of these teeth can cause serious dental problems later in life:

  • The teeth on either side of a lost tooth drift into the empty space. When it is time for the permanent tooth to come in, there is not enough space, and it erupts out of its proper position. This is one cause of malocclusion or “crooked” teeth. Once malocclusion has developed, correction may require a complicated and expensive orthodontic treatment.
  • When teeth drift and become crooked, it is difficult to clean all tooth surfaces (inside, outside and chewing). This can result in dental caries (tooth decay) and may contribute to periodontal (gum) disease. If a space maintainer is used, pay special attention to thoroughly cleaning teeth around the appliance.
  • Tooth loss can affect a child’s appearance as well as speech. Many letters of the alphabet need assistance of teeth to form proper sounds. Teeth also help to shape the face.

You should give immediate attention to the loss of any tooth. The greatest amount of movement of teeth into the empty space occurs during the first six months after tooth loss. A space maintainer is particularly important if your child has lost the second primary molar. It is the key to the normal development of the permanent teeth. Approximately 60% of malocclusion due to lost space is caused by the loss of this tooth.

Baby bottle tooth decay is a condition that can destroy the teeth of a child or infant. The condition is caused when the child’s teeth are repeatedly exposed to sugary substances for long periods. The most frequently used are sweet liquids, including milk, formula and fruit juices.

Other determining factors are how often and how long the teeth are exposed to decay causing acids. The more often the bottle is in the child’s mouth, the greater the chance of harm to the teeth. Especially harmful is to let the child fall asleep with sugary liquids in the bottle.

The key is to remember that, as a parent, you can prevent the unnecessary acid attacks on your child’s teeth. Children should be taught to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday.

Another key to prevention is to clean a baby’s teeth after each feeding. This can be accomplished with a gauze pad, cotton swab or toothbrush.

Dental visits should begin by the child’s first birthday. The dentist can determine if the cleaning technique you are using is working and if there are problems with the child’s teeth as they grow. Fluoride is also beneficial to prevent tooth decay in baby teeth and the child’s developing permanent teeth.


Preventing tooth decay is much better than treatment for cavities. Sealants are a major help in preventing cavities on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. When a thin coat of clear plastic is applied to the decay-prone surfaces of the teeth, that surface is protected from bacteria that cause decay. Children most often receive sealants, but adults, too, can benefit from the application of sealant material over pit and fissure areas. This is a painless procedure that will pay for itself over and over as decay is prevented. Sealants last several years under the force of normal chewing.

Brushing Tips

If your kids are not brushing long enough, try these creative ideas:

  • Keep a two-minute egg timer handy
  • Have them brush for the length of a song
  • Have a toothbrushing chart with fun rewards after a set number of times brushed
  • Using a good electric toothbrush, such as a Sonicare, makes brushing even more fun
  • Change the toothbrush often to add interest
  • Choose a good toothpaste with a fun flavor
  • Brush your teeth while the child is brushing theirs
  • Brush your child’s teeth for them

Call us today to learn more and schedule an appointment!