Every parent worries at some point of time about how to protect their children’s teeth. Baby teeth are essential in the development and placement of your child’s permanent teeth. Primary teeth maintain the spaces where permanent teeth will erupt and they help develop proper speech patterns. It is important to take care of your child’s primary teeth and teach them good brushing and flossing habits at an early age.
Brushing and Flossing
Care for your child’s teeth should start as soon as their first tooth erupts. At an early age, a damp cloth can be used to wipe the teeth clean at least two times a day. As multiple teeth start to come in you can start introducing a toothbrush and non-fluoridated toothpaste. Make sure not to apply too much toothpaste, the size of a kernel of rice is sufficient at this age. When brushing for your child make sure you get the front, back and biting surface of each tooth clean, focusing along the gum line where plaque tends to collect. Flossing for your child should also begin at this time. As teeth erupt next to each other you will not be able to clean in between them without the use of floss. Flossing for children can be made easier by using a dental flosser. As your child grows, encourage them to learn to spit the toothpaste out. Once your child has accomplished this task efficiently you may introduce a children’s toothpaste containing fluoride, but still remember to use a very small amount. Parents should make sure to help their children with brushing until the age of eight and encourage at least two full minutes of brushing. Using a kitchen timer set at two minutes is a smart way to help your child learn how long they should be brushing. It is great for children to learn to brush on their own but parents should always make sure a thorough job is done to prevent any cavities from forming.
Teeth are affected primarily by what your child eats and drinks. Thankfully there are many tips to help keep your child’s teeth healthy. Avoid putting anything besides water in your child’s bottle before bed. The sugars in milk can cause cavities and should not be left on their teeth all night long. Offer water as a drink option as much as possible. Tap water contains no sugar and it aids in rinsing the teeth of any sugars from previous drinks or snacks. Tap water contains fluoride which strengthens the enamel of your child’s teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. Avoid sticky, chewy and sugary foods that can adhere to the teeth such as raisins or fruit snacks. Get your child in the habit of eating as few snacks as possible throughout the day. Constant snacking is an easy habit to get into with your child, but can be very harmful for their teeth. Acid caused by sugars in the foods we eat continues to attack your child’s teeth after eating. The more times those sugars are introduced to the mouth without brushing in between to remove them, the more time your child’s teeth are under attack and at risk for cavities. The best thing you can do is to teach your child to make healthy food choices.
Your child’s first dental visit should be scheduled by the age of one. The general rule is to see a dentist six months after eruption of your child’s first tooth. Bringing your child to the dentist at a young age is the best way to prevent problems with your child’s teeth. The Surgeon General calls tooth decay the single most common chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Your dentist can give you advice on the best ways to effectively clean your child’s teeth, tips for teething, information about pacifier use and thumb sucking and help you learn about your child’s fluoride needs. Decay can occur as soon as teeth appear so bringing your child to the dentist early can lead to a lifetime of good oral care habits. It will familiarize your child to the dental office and staff, thereby reducing anxiety and fear, which will make for plenty of stress-free visits in the future!