Best Practice For Your Child's Dental Care
How often should children go to the dentist? Why do they keep getting cavities? What’s the best way to convince kids that brushing their teeth is important? If you’re a parent, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions, and we’ve got the answers.
First, know that good dental care starts even before your child’s first teeth appear. Make sure to eat healthy while pregnant, because by the second trimester, your baby’s teeth are beginning to form and they need calcium and protein to be healthy and strong.
How to care for your baby’s teeth
When the baby is born, they may or may not have teeth, but there is no need for any brushing yet. Just run a damp cloth over the baby’s gums to gently clear away bacteria after feeding them.
You can also buy toothbrushes specifically for infants at your local pharmacy, and once your baby’s teeth start to come in, use a tiny dollop of toothpaste mixed with water to brush. The American Dental Association recommends parents use fluoride toothpaste, and to keep the amount similar to the size of a grain of rice.
Check if your tap water is fluoridated. If it isn’t, your baby may require a fluoride supplement and be sure to ask your dentist about that.
Babies are also at risk of tooth decay, so be sure to brush regularly. Sugars from formula, milk or juice can wear away at the enamel of the teeth if the teeth are not brushed regularly. Try not to put your child to bed with a bottle, food, a sippy cup or a pacifier, as this can put them at risk for tooth decay.
By the time your child is twelve to fifteen months old, you should be encouraging them to drink from a cup, as this will cause less liquid to collect around their teeth. If your child does need a bottle for long periods of time, try to fill it with just water instead of juice.
If your child’s front teeth are discolored or pitted, or there are white spots in the gum line of their front teeth, that’s a sign of tooth decay. If you see that, a trip to the dentist is in order, because cavities might be forming. You should take your child to the dentist as early in their life as possible so that your child can get used to seeing the dentist. This will teach your child that the dental appointment can be friendly.
What happens at the first dental checkup
By your child’s first birthday, or sooner, you should be scheduling their first ever dental checkup. There, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth and give you personalized advice on how to best take care of your child’s teeth.
At this appointment, the dentist might apply fluoride to your child’s teeth if they are at risk of getting cavities. Cavities occur when food particles and bacteria are left on the teeth, wearing at the enamel, until a hole forms. Fluoride can harden the tooth’s enamel, protecting the teeth from possible cavities.
By the time your child is two, you should teach them how to spit out the toothpaste while brushing their teeth, and encourage them to practice brushing their own teeth. Kids are likely to swallow toothpaste up until age eight, so make sure you supervise them while brushing.
Teach your kids healthy habits
From a young age, encourage your children to brush twice a day and floss regularly. Buy them dentist-approved fluoride toothpaste, which will toughen their tooth enamel. Be aware that too much fluoride can discolor teeth, and discuss which toothpaste to use with your dentist.
Avoid giving your children too many cavity-causing sugary foods, like candy, fruit leather, or even gummy vitamins and sweetened liquid medicine. After eating sugary foods, kids should know to brush their teeth. If they aren’t near their toothbrush, they should at the very least rinse their mouths with water.
Make sure you are taking your kids to the dentist at least twice a year, though some dentists may recommend visits every three months. Be sure to ask your dentist what they recommend.
Your dentist may want to apply a sealant to your child’s back teeth to prevent bacteria from forming cavities. This is helpful in protecting from cavities, but it is important to still brush and floss. He may also encourage your child to wear a mouth-guard while playing sports in order to prevent potential damage.
You should also know your family’s dental history. If gum disease or cavities run in your family, your children may be at higher risk as well. Even the most careful dental care cannot prevent genetic dental issues. Tell your dentist about your family history, and take your children to the dentist if they complain about tooth discomfort, which can be a sign of a cavity.
Solutions to common dental problems
If your child needs a filling, know that there are many options for repair. You can opt for composite resins, which are often tooth-colored, making them look like natural teeth. These composite resins bond to the teeth, making sure the filling does not come out. You can also opt for steel or ceramic crowns, which prevent tooth decay from spreading.
If your child’s teeth aren’t straight or evenly spaced or there is an issue with their bite, you can begin thinking about orthodontia. The sooner you take your child to an orthodontist, the more effective their work can be. Younger children’s teeth are more easily manipulated than adult teeth, and can prevent major dental treatment later. Children can start going to the Orthodontist at the age of seven.
There are many options today with Orthodontics. There are plastic-based braces with clear materials as well as metal braces, and treatment will depend on the child's needs. Ask your child’s dentist about what they recommend.