Tips for Parents: Caring for Your Child's Teeth
Do you know everything you need to know about caring for your child’s teeth? Oral health has a profound effect on overall health and wellness. A healthy mouth promotes a healthy body.
Preventive dental care helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, the two most common oral health problems. Children are just as susceptible to these as adults, and even more so in some ways.
Starting good oral hygiene habits early can establish a foundation for a lifetime of oral health. Here are some tips for parents to help you care for your child’s teeth.
Brush Children’s Teeth Twice a Day
It is best for children to brush their teeth at least twice a day (ideally three times a day), once in the morning and once at night before going to bed, using fluoride or xylitol toothpaste. Young children will need assistance with brushing until they are capable of brushing effectively on their own. After your child brushes, go back over their teeth with the toothbrush yourself for best results. Model good brushing techniques so children learn how to brush effectively.
Start Flossing Between Age 2 and 6
Children should begin flossing with parental help, when their teeth are close enough together for food and plaque to get trapped between them. This may occur anywhere between the ages of 2 and 6 for most children. If you’re not sure when or if your child should be flossing, ask your dentist at your child’s next appointment. It is often easier for children to use flossers when they first start because they are easier to hold.
Allow at Least 2 Hours Between Eating
Frequent snacking is common for children, but it can have a negative impact on their oral health. Children’s teeth need time to recover in between exposures to food and beverages. There are natural enzymes that protect the teeth from decay and promote healthy levels of bacteria in the mouth, and those can only do their job if there are at least 2 hour breaks between eating and drinking (other than water). When snacking we recommend drinking water.
Schedule Dental Cleanings Every 6 Months
In addition to caring for children’s teeth at home, professional dental cleanings and oral examinations are necessary to maintain oral health. Children are especially prone to missing spots when brushing, which can allow plaque to build up in certain areas of the mouth and increase the risk of developing cavities. Dental cleanings remove plaque that is left behind after brushing and oral examinations detect the earliest signs of tooth decay and gum disease for easier treatment.
Schedule Your Child’s First Dental Visit Around Age One
Children should have their first dental appointment around their first birthday or within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth, whichever comes first. As soon as a tooth is visible above the gums it is susceptible to decay, so a dental cleaning and oral exam is needed. When dental care begins at an early age it helps children get used to the experience of going to the dentist, reducing the chances of anxiety or fear.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatric Dentistry
Is dental care important for baby teeth that will just fall out?
Even though the primary (baby) teeth are eventually shed, they remain in the mouth for many years before that happens. They are also important for eating and speech development. The health of the primary teeth sets the tone for the health of the permanent teeth that will (hopefully) last forever.
Can children get gum disease?
Children are just as susceptible to gum disease as adults. When plaque builds up on the teeth without being removed by brushing and dental cleanings the bacteria contained within it can infect the gum tissue, resulting in gum disease. Good oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits can usually prevent gum disease.
Schedule a Dental Appointment Today
If it has been more than 6 months since your child’s last dental visit or if they are just reaching the age for their first appointment, Pediatric Dental Care of Memphis welcomes new and returning patients.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.