It is never too soon to teach children the importance of pediatric dental care. Research shows that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, affecting up to 50 percent of American children by age 1. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep your child’s teeth clean with a simple home-care routine that includes daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing with fluoride. With these simple dental tips, and the guidance of a pediatric dentist, your child will be well on their way to having a healthy smile for life!
Establishing the Oral Hygiene Routine for Children
Taking care of your child’s teeth at home is simple and only takes a few minutes per day. The trick is to get into a good routine from an early age so these healthy habits are a normal part of your child’s routine. Using child-friendly products designed for smaller mouths is a good way to get your child comfortable with a home dental care routine, and leading by example is always best—if you can brush and floss at the same time as them, your child will be happy to join in!
Brushing and Flossing Tips
When teaching your child how to brush and floss, start by finding a child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush that your child can use comfortably. You can even let your child pick out their own toothbrush so it feels unique to them! They should be brushing for at least two minutes, twice per day, using small circles to brush all sides of their teeth while massaging the gums as well. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and advise them to spit out all the toothpaste when done (do not swallow toothpaste!). Your child should floss once per day, preferably in the evenings before bed. They can either use a traditional length of floss to clear any debris from between the teeth, or floss picks can also be helpful for small mouths. These two habits alone will introduce your child to the importance of teeth care at home!
The Role of Fluoride
One of the most important dental tips for developing teeth is to use a toothpaste and mouthwash that’s high in fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that works by hardening the enamel layer that comprises the outside of our teeth and is beneficial for everyone’s teeth—but especially smaller children who may have only just started to receive their “permanent teeth.” Fluoride use from a young age encourages strong teeth that are more resistant to corrosion and decay. However, a fluoride mouthwash may be a better idea for older children who would be less likely to swallow the mouthwash instead of spitting it out.
Baby Teeth Lead The Way For Adult Teeth
Although baby teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth, it is still important to maintain healthy oral care. Baby teeth act as guides and space savers for adult teeth. When adult teeth are ready to come through, the roots of the baby teeth dissolve and the tooth falls out. If a baby tooth falls out prematurely, surrounding baby teeth crowd the empty space, eliminating room for permanent teeth to come through. It is important to visit your dentist for a space saver. In all cases, it is important to address issues as soon as possible. Baby teeth are just as vulnerable to cavities, gum disease and other problems as adult teeth.
One of the greatest temptations for children—and some parents!—is to prematurely remove or “yank out” baby teeth when they become loose. While a sufficiently loose tooth may fall out with a gentle tug or completely on it’s own, removing a loose tooth before it is ready to fall out can cause crowding of the permanent teeth that take its place. Not to mention, removing baby teeth prematurely can be painful, and any open sore left in their place is subject to infection if not treated properly.
When to Visit a Dentist?
One of the best practices to teach children is the importance of dentist visits. Here at Champagne Pediatric Dentistry, we make each visit fun! Wear a cool pair of sunglasses, choose a new toothbrush, and laugh with our friendly dental staff. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit the dentist around age 1 or at least six months after the first baby tooth comes in. Many children develop cavities during this time. Early childhood visits teach our young patients about flossing, brushing tips, healthy foods and general maintenance. We like to meet and build relationships with our children, and eliminate the common fear of the dentist!
Regular visits with the dentist also reinforce the importance of children’s pediatric dentistry, as many problems can arise in the early years of dental development that can only be spotted by a trained pediatric dentist. Establishing a good relationship between your child and their dentist is important for building trust, and establishing the dentist’s office—and dental care procedures—as safe and comfortable. However, we at Champagne Pediatric Dentistry know that regular trips to the dentist require a level of insurance that may not be feasible for all families. That’s why we’ve established our monthly membership plans, which allow your children to see the dentist, get fillings, x-rays, or other treatment for a single, flat monthly rate.
It can be tough to get into good oral healthcare habits, but starting earlier is proven to help kids take better care of their teeth—for life! Taking the time to help them learn their own oral care routine and get comfortable visiting the dentist for regular treatment can help your children avoid costly or painful treatments later on in life. If you have any questions about which products, routines, or treatments are best for your child, the professionals at Chapmage Pediatric Dentistry are here to help!