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Are Baby Teeth Important Since They’re Just Going To Fall Out?

If you think your baby’s toothless smile is cute, just wait until their first teeth start to come in! Dr. Chi Nguyen, a dentist at the ICHS Holly Park Dental Clinic, is here to inform parents what they need to know about their child’s teeth, why they’re important for lifelong dental health, and how to care for them from birth through preschool.

Are Baby Teeth Important Since They’re Just Going To Fall Out?
Featured Speaker:
Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS

Chi Nguyen is the newest dental provider to join the ICHS Holly Park Dental Clinic. She served the pediatric population in Houston, Texas for four years before joining ICHS. She received her Doctor of Dental Surgery in 2017 from the University of Texas School of Dentistry. Dr. Chi is excited to serve people of various backgrounds by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate health services and promoting health equity for all. As an advocate, provider, and teacher, she believes in establishing trusting relationships with patients to help them achieve perfect dental health.

Are Baby Teeth Important Since They’re Just Going To Fall Out?

 Amanda Wilde (Host): Tooth fairy aside, turns out baby teeth are important to dental health. We'll hear how baby teeth work and how to keep baby teeth and gums healthy with Dr. Chi Nguyen, Dentist at ICHS Holly Park Medical and Dental Clinic. Welcome to Together We Rise, a podcast from International Community Health Services.

ICHS advocates for health as a human right and welcomes all in need of care regardless of health, immigration status, or ability to pay. I'm your host, Amanda Wilde. Welcome, Dr. Nguyen. Thank you for being here to clarify what baby teeth are all about.

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Hi, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Host: Baby teeth, first of all, when do they come in? When should we be looking for those?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Baby teeth typically come in around six months old but it does vary. Some kids get their teeth early and some can get them in a little late. I've seen kids start their first, start teething around 18 months. So it's a big range, but typically six months is when you start looking for those teeth.

Host: And teething. It can be such a bear. How can parents relieve teething pain?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: So with teething, it's a lot for a child. Their gums are getting torn and so there's a lot of swelling, there's, it's very uncomfortable. So I typically recommend Tylenol, and that prescription dose is, based on what's recommended by their pediatric doctor, and so it's based on that and aside from medication, I also usually recommend any teething toys, specifically cold toys that does smooth the gums. I've also told parents they can try using teething baggies. And so what that basically is, is you can get some frozen fruits and put it in these little baggies for them to chew on. And that usually helps as well.

Host: Oh, that's great. Kind of like peas instead of ice for the bad back. It has more flexibility. Is it possible for baby teeth to get cavities?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Yes, it is. So, baby teeth actually have a thinner layer of enamel, so that actually means they're more prone to cavities than permanent teeth. And they develop a lot faster as well.

Host: So, what can we do to prevent cavities in baby teeth?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Typically, wiping the teeth, keeping the teeth clean is important to prevent cavities. For babies I usually recommend cleaning the teeth with a wet rag before bed. And that's very important. It removes any milk that could be sitting on the teeth.

Host: Should you do that for their gums their entire life or only at the time the teeth are coming in and are in?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Cleaning with a wet rag is most important I would say in the first year or two when they're still feeding. So within the first year is the most important time because they're getting a lot of milk, they're getting it from the bottle. So that's the most important time. I usually recommend switching over to like a toothbrush when the back teeth come in.

Host: Now, should a parent take their baby to the dentist?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Yes, it's really important for them to come in, not only to get checkups for cavities, but also for them just to get comfortable with the dentist, being in a dental office, having someone in their mouth, looking around, getting used to the mouth mirror and things like that. It's just establishing that dental home is really important. And so, I usually recommend for the kids to come in as soon as they get their first teeth.

Host: So the teeth start coming in at six months. At what age do kids start to lose those baby teeth and then get permanent teeth?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Yeah. They typically start to lose their teeth around six years old. That's usually the average age. And again, that varies among kids as well, but six years old is when they start to lose those teeth.

Host: Okay. And what should a parent do when a baby tooth falls out? I'll tell you what my mom did. She had us wrap it, put it under the pillow, and wait for a visit for the, from the tooth fairy.

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Yeah, that sounds about right. That hasn't really changed. Parents shouldn't really do anything once the baby tooth falls out. There may be a little bit of bleeding, but that's where maybe some ice, something cold is going to help with that, and then if it's really sore, you can have the kids rinse with salt water.

Host: Mm hmm. And should you ever pull a loose tooth?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: I would normally recommend that if the child is not comfortable, if they're not able to chew, or if it's just really in the way of their function, of their, you know, just daily function then, you know, pulling the tooth would be good. I also encourage for kids to kind of make it a game. Like, hey, you can also start to wiggle your tooth, like, while you're watching TV, or when you have screen time. Just kind of push your tooth with your tongue or even your finger if it's clean, like, kind of get that tooth wiggling and going.

Host: Now, one thing that has changed is there are now two National Tooth Fairy days. Can you explain that?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: Yeah. So there's strategically placed six months apart and I think they did that so that it would remind parents and kids to get their checkups done every six months.

Host: Ah, okay, got it. Okay. Well, this all sounds very doable, which is nice to know for parents of young children. Thank you so much for shining a light on how to deal with the child's first set of teeth, the baby teeth, and setting the stage for healthy permanent teeth. And happy National Children's Dental Health Month. It's February somewhere, right?

Kim Chi Nguyen, DDS: That's right. Yeah.

Host: Dr. Chi Nguyen is a Dentist at ICHS Holly Park Medical and Dental Clinic. For more information, visit If you enjoyed what you heard, please be sure to share in your social media channels and check out the entire podcast library for additional topics of interest. This has been Together We Rise wellness podcast from International Community Health Services.