Tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases. One in four children experiences having at least one cavity before entering kindergarten. However, cavities in children (and adults) can be easily prevented. Starting a proper dental health care routine with your child early on can help prevent dental related problems and reduce the likelihood of your child developing cavities both as a child and later in life.
Between trips to the dentist and being told to brush and floss daily, children can easily find dental hygiene to be a real chore. As a parent, it is important to keep them interested in wanting to keep their mouths healthy. Help your son or daughter have a healthy smile by making dental hygiene fun. Make brushing, flossing, and even dental check-ups a positive experience so that your child can be excited about good oral care. Not only will your child grow up with a beautiful smile, but he or she will also develop habits that will last a lifetime.
Good, consistent, and daily dental habits accompanied by routine visits can help develop great lifelong oral health. Here are some ways to improve oral care as well as a few tips to keep your child cavity-free!
It is important to start dental care early, and your child should have his or her first dental appointment by his or her first birthday. This allows your child to get used to the dental office and the dentist to check the growth and development of the teeth. This is also a good time for you to ask questions about teething, fluorides, home care, pacifiers, and thumb sucking.
Scheduling regular dental visiting throughout your child’s life is extremely important in preventing dental health problems. It is recommended that your child goes to the dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and examinations. Your pediatric dentist can spot decay and other problems early on, making any necessary treatment easier and more comfortable for you and your child. This not only helps to keep your child’s oral health in check, but also allows your child to acclimate to the dentist’s office.
Importance of a balanced diet
Eating healthy and nutritious foods is important on many levels. Not only does it strengthen a developing body, but a healthy diet is also important for keeping teeth healthy! Sugar is often the number one enemy to your child’s teeth, so limiting your child’s sugar consumption can be a great way to prevent tooth decay and cavities while promoting overall healthy well-being.
Make brushing fun
Making brushing time fun by doing it as a family activity. Children often look to their parents on how to act and dental hygiene is no different. Show your son or daughter your brushing, flossing, and even tongue brushing skills.
As you brush together, make funny faces, use a fancy timer, or pick a song to listen and dance to while you brush. Remember the 2×2 rule! Brush for 2 minutes a day twice a day and floss during at least one of the sessions!
Making a dental routine that you do as a family can make brushing and flossing more of a fun activity rather than a chore. This also allows you to supervise their habits ensuring that they are doing it properly.
Children are often not coordinated enough to clean their teeth thoroughly until they are about 8 to 10 years old. Until then, you must supervise their brushing and flossing to ensure proper dental hygiene. Even after they can brush and floss on their own, they might still need reminders and monitoring to ensure they are doing a good job.
Most dentists recommend that you begin to teach your child about flossing as early as the age of 2 or 3 years old. Children of this age will require supervision and assistance as they attempt to clean their teeth. Flossing is necessary to remove plaque and food trapped between teeth and should be done at least once a day.
To get children into the habit of daily flossing, parents need to make flossing a friendly and easy experience. Gently guide the floss between each tooth, curving the floss around the tooth and carefully sliding it underneath the gum line.
Pre-threaded holders and Kid-friendly flossers can help prevent pain as they are designed for sensitive gums and smaller mouths. Floss is also available in several colors and flavors. Letting your child pick the one he or she wants to use might make the act of flossing something to be excited about.
Be patient as it takes time to master the art of flossing. Using age-appropriate products can help your children have a positive association with flossing.
Brush and paste
Another tip that might help your children enjoy taking care of their teeth is letting them pick out their own toothbrushes and toothpastes. Studies show that children feel much better about activities in which they have more control. Limit their choices to soft-bristled brushes that are age-appropriate in size and nature. As your children grow, so will their toothbrush sizes.
For toothpaste, there can be many options to choose from but be sure to check for the ADA seal of approval before buying.
When your child is older, consider using a toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride can help protect teeth from cavities by strengthening tooth enamel and minimizing harmful bacteria and acids found within the mouth.
Coupled with brushing and flossing, the right mouthwash can help keep your child’s teeth cleaner longer. Ask your pediatric dentist what is right for your child before using mouthwashes.
As your child’s dental hygiene routine will adjust to his or her needs, the appointments at the dentist’s office may also change. Some common treatments provided during your child’s appointments that might help with fighting cavities are dental sealants and fluoride treatments.
As we mentioned earlier, fluoride can help strengthen the teeth. As bad oral bacteria eat away at your child’s teeth, the enamel can weaken. Those soft spots can easily become precursors to cavities which may begin to form if not addressed quickly.
During your child’s dental visit, we may suggest applying a fluoride treatment to your child’s teeth to help strengthen the enamel. This process is comfortable and non-invasive. After a short waiting period of several minutes, your child can eat and drink whatever he or she wants without fear of washing away the fluoride.
Fluoride is a great treatment for baby and permanent teeth.
A sealant is a thin coating applied to your child’s teeth to smooth the surface and provide a shield against decay. This is great for those back teeth that have lots of grooves and bumps that are difficult to clean properly. Even the most diligent brushes might not fully clean those back teeth. Sealants can help provide an extra surface that is protective but also easier to clean, and can help to prevent bacteria from finding a hiding spot.
Dental sealants are painted onto teeth during a short and easy procedure. Once the sealants are dry, your child will not be aware of them. Like fluoride treatments, sealants are recommended for both baby teeth and their permanent replacements.
We love your child’s smile as much as you do, and so we’d like to offer you a few tips and pieces of advice to keep your child’s smile happy and healthy. Start taking steps to establish a routine with your kid from an early age. Prevention is the best medicine and learning habits early on will help your child maintain great oral health throughout his or her life. We are committed to keeping our patients healthy and educated. Let us know if you want more information on how to properly take care of teeth and engage your child in proper oral healthcare.
Contact us to make an appointment at Children’s Dentistry of San Diego today!