As a parent, knowing the appropriate amount of dental care for your child might not be easy. When to schedule your kid’s first visit to the dentist, at what age you should start flossing, and how to know if your baby needs braces are some of the questions you have. It is also possible that you don’t know the best way to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Here is a guideline to help you keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.
Schedule a Check-up
Proper dental care begins before the first tooth appears. The fact that you cannot see any teeth does not necessarily mean your baby has none. The formation of teeth occurs in the second trimester of pregnancy. Babies have 20 primary teeth at birth, some fully developed.
It’s important for children to see a dentist before their first birthday since early preventive care keeps them from getting tooth decay. Starting the dental care early will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Teach Healthy Dental Habits
Good oral habits are crucial from the get-go. You can clear away harmful bacteria by running a clean, soft, and damp wash-cloth over your baby’s gums well before he/she starts teething. Once your child’s teeth appear, brush them twice daily using an infant toothbrush, water, and some fluoridated toothpaste, preferably around the same size as a grain of rice.
Maintain the same quantity of toothpaste even if you are not using fluoridated infant toothpaste to ensure the amount swallowed remains minimal. Children aged three and above should use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
Although most children learn to spit while brushing when they are around two years old, you shouldn’t give them water to swish and spit since it increases the likelihood of swallowing toothpaste. Kids younger than six need supervision when brushing because they are much more likely to swallow toothpaste.
Start flossing in between your baby’s teeth as soon as they touch. Remember, it’s best to brush and floss your child’s teeth just before bedtime. Flossing might be more important than brushing, especially since it the most effective way of removing bacteria. As you probably know, bacteria are the precursors of plaque, which will turn into tartar if it’s allowed to faster. Unfortunately, brushing and flossing on a regular basis will not remove tartar. Tartar is known to cause decay and loss of teeth over time, and this makes flossing one of the most important dental care habits. Consult your dentist if you are unsure about the most suitable flossing techniques.
Avoid ‘Baby Bottle Decay’
Children can develop tooth decay due to the absence of good feeding habits. While putting your child to sleep with a bottle of formula, milk, or juice might be convenient, it can harm the child’s teeth. The sugars from such liquids will cling to your baby’s teeth for hours, feeding bacteria that eat away at the enamel and causing tooth decay. As a result, your child might suffer from bottle mouth, a condition signalled by discoloured, pitted, or pocket front teeth. Children with severe cases of bottle mouth usually develop cavities and are likely to have all their front teeth pulled. After you have brushed and flossed your children’s teeth, try not to give them food or drink until the next morning. If you must, make sure the bottle you put your baby to sleep with contains nothing but water.
Control the Sippy Cup
Because sucking on a bottle all day long might be damaging to young teeth, you should help your child set specific drinking times. Excessive use of a sippy cup might lead to tooth decay, especially if the drinks contain a lot of sugar. If your baby is at least six months old, try to switch him/her from a bottle to a straw or hard spout sippy cup. By the time they are 12 months old, they will have the coordination and motor skills to use the cup by themselves.
Cut Back on Sugary Drinks
Although many parents consider juice a healthy drink, it can contribute to tooth decay. You should, therefore, limit your child to 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice daily. Use juice as a treat and give them sugary foods and drinks only at mealtimes.
Ditch the pacifier when your child is 2-3 years old
While there are many good reasons to use a pacifier, it might eventually affect how your child’s teeth line up or alter the shape of his/her mouth. Consult your doctor if a pacifier is still in use by the time your child is three.
Be on the Lookout for Sweet Medicine
The medications meant for children are usually flavoured and sugary. Your baby is likely to develop cavities if sweet drugs stick on his/her teeth. If your child is on long-term medications, talk to your dentist about the most suitable dental care technique.
Don’t let your kids off the hook just because they put up a fuss when it’s time to brush, floss, and rinse. Instead, let them know it is not optional. Remember not to wait until it is too close to bedtime to start the process of brushing, flossing, and rinsing your kid’s teeth. You child might not be very cooperative if he/she is tired.
Be patient because kids are not usually ready to brush, floss, and rinse on their own until they are about six. Additionally, they will probably perfect their flossing skills when they are about ten.
Dr. Nick, principal dentist at Terrigal Beach Dental, Australia’s specialised dental practice located in the heart of beautiful Terrigal. At Terrigal Beach Dental we offer a relaxed modern environment and abide by the highest sterilisation and hygiene standards. Our experienced team of friendly dentists work with state-of-the-art equipment and the latest technology to look after all your dental needs – gently, carefully and professionally.
This post was supplied by Dr Nick at Terrigal Beach Dental and is an unpaid post. I am not receiving money or free stuff in return, but seeing that I work in the field of dental suction in my day job, promoting good dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are kind of in my own best interest. All photos supplied by the author.