Things You Need to Know to Keep Your Kid’s Teeth Healthy
If you have any children, then you know that there is an overabundance of parenting advice floating around. With all this information, it can be hard to discover things that are most important to know. Even when it comes to healthy teeth, it can be difficult to learn what you need to know to help your child’s mouth stay cavity-free. To help you out, we have created this list of important information every parent needs to know so they do not make mistakes that could harm their children’s teeth.
One of the first steps is helping your kids learn how to brush. It is important to brush in the morning, not just at night because bacteria can begin to colonize and harm enamel within 12 hours.
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is letting their kids brush on their own before they are coordinated enough to do a great job. Most kids aren’t ready to brush on their own until they are around 8 or 9 years old. Every child is different, so your child may be ready a bit earlier or later.
Transitioning from you brushing to them doing it alone may take a while. Different strategies will work for different kids. For some, you can begin letting them brush by themselves and just check to make sure all the surfaces are clean, especially along the gumlines. Other kids will respond well if you have them brush first then you brush after they are done. This allows you to see when they are brushing well enough to begin to brush on their own.
Don’t forget that even after kids are ready to brush their teeth without supervision, they may occasionally revert to poor brushing. This is common when teeth are loose, and kids don’t want to put pressure on them because it is uncomfortable. They may also do a less than stellar job brushing when they are busy or tired. It is a good practice to check periodically and make sure they are continuing to brush their teeth well and plaque isn’t building up.
Flossing is as important as brushing because food particles and bacteria can hide between teeth. As soon as your baby has two teeth that touch, it’s time to start flossing once a day. Gently floss between each tooth and be sure to carefully floss all the way down to the gums. Plaque and bacteria can easily build up along the gum line, causing cavities and inflammation even in babies and toddlers. No parent wants that!
Using the correct amount of fluoride is an important part of good oral hygiene. While it is true that too much can be harmful, if you use the right amount it is perfectly safe and the enamel in your child’s teeth will benefit from brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. Children under 3 only need their toothpaste to be the size of a grain of rice, and children over three only need it to be the size of a pea. If you are worried about the safety or effectiveness of using fluoride, check out this article on the latest research and best ways to use fluoride.
Did you know that you are supposed to schedule your baby’s first dental checkup after their first tooth erupts, and no later than age one? Children also need regular checkups and cleanings, usually once every 6 months. Unfortunately, it is common for children who are only two years old to develop cavities and need a filling. This is because enamel in baby teeth is thinner than in adult teeth, so going a year or two between visits, or scheduling the first visit too late could result in easily preventable cavities.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you establish a dental home for your child. If they are used to going to a dentist where they feel safe and comfortable, it will be much easier if they need to get a cavity filled or to receive treatment for an injured tooth.
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry and Orthodontics, we have created an entertaining, jungle-themed environment where children can have fun and feel comfortable. Dr. Culp focuses on preventative care and education, to help your child can maintain a healthy mouth and avoid restorative treatment. Our entire team is kind and gentle, encouraging trust and cooperation so your child can begin a lifetime of positive dental visits.
Cavities in Baby Teeth
Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth! Just because they only need to last 5 to 12 years, doesn’t mean they don’t need to be equally well cared for. If they do get a cavity or injury, it is essential for them to be treated. The primary teeth help your child speak and eat correctly and maintain space for adult teeth. A child with cavities in their baby teeth is much more likely to develop cavities in adult teeth, so it is important to treat them well.
Food and Drinks
A healthy diet is important for healthy teeth. An obvious culprit is sweets, but acidic foods, sports drinks, juices, and even milk can cause just as much harm to your child’s teeth as eating a bunch of pixy stix! Help your child remember to rinse their mouth with water after drinking any of these types of beverages.
Unfortunately, eating or drinking shortly before sleep makes you much more likely to form cavities. Bedtime snacks need to be eaten at least an hour before going to sleep and it is important to brush thoroughly after eating them.
Sadly, putting your baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup can also cause cavities. If possible, it is best to have them completely finish their feeding before falling asleep. This helps prevent milk from pooling in their mouth and allows you to wipe their gums and teeth clean. The good news is that if you start taking care of their teeth and gums while they are tiny, children are more likely to continue the habit as they grow!
It is possible to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and this starts at home! Children don’t understand how important their teeth are, and the cost of not taking great care of them, so it is up to you to show and teach them these important lessons. This includes helping your children develop excellent habits with dental hygiene, as well as being aware of the types of food and drink you let your kids consume and the timing of when they eat and drink. Establishing a dental home where your child is comfortable is another important aspect of maintaining a healthy mouth. We have created a wonderful environment to provide a dental home for children and are here to give advice, education, and answer any questions you may have so your children can enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile.
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.