Like the rest of their bodies, children’s teeth and mouth are ever-changing as they grow and develop. Are you doing everything you can to protect your children’s beautiful smiles as you would the rest of their bodies?
The Early Years
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to the dentist for the first time about 6 months after the tooth erupts, or when they turn one. However, good dental care should start even before this in the comfort of your own home. You can wipe your infant’s gums with a soft, damp cloth after feeding to help protect against gum disease and oral bacteria.
As soon as their first teeth come in, your baby depends on you to help keep them clean. If your child is not a fan of having their teeth brushed, ask your dentist for tips to make brushing easier. Make sure you are using a small, soft toothbrush that is designed for a baby’s mouth. Play soothing music or sing to your child as you brush their teeth in order to make it a more pleasant experience.
As your child approaches the age of three or four, they can start taking more responsibility for their own dental care. Letting your child help brush their own teeth and making it fun is a great way to teach them the importance of preventive care. A toddler is too young to brush on their own, so make sure to supervise. When they’re done, it is your turn to finish brushing for them! As you brush, explain how you are taking the time to get each and every tooth clean.
If your child does not enjoy having their teeth brushed, allowing them to choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste can help. Kids often love toothbrushes decorated with their favorite cartoon characters. ADA-accepted toothpastes flavored like cherry or bubble gum are more appealing to kids than mint paste.
As your child grows older, keeping up with daily dental care is very important. Continue to supervise brushing and flossing until your child is around age 7 or 8. Before this age, your child may not have enough dexterity in their wrists to brush well.
A Few More Tips
In addition to brushing and flossing, there are other steps that can be taken to prevent dental problems as your child grows.
- Schedule regular visits to the dentist every 6 months. This will aid in helping your child maintain healthy teeth and gums
- Fluoride strengthens dental enamel and keeps it strong to help prevent decay. Offer fluoride-rich tap water, use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, and talk to your child’s dentist about fluoride treatments.
- Dental sealants on permanent molars are also a good way of preventing decay. Sealants are a clear, plastic-like material that is applied to the biting surface of a child’s molar, helping to prevent decay from entering into the grooves of the tooth.
Preventive dentistry means a healthy smile. Are you doing all you can to help safeguard your child’s teeth? Ask us questions; we are happy to help! And don’t forget to schedule your child’s next checkup and cleaning appointment.