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Caring for Your Child’s Teeth: Tips for Parents from Dentists

We all know that dental care is important for everyone, but just how important is it for a child’s teeth? 

Baby teeth are already present inside your child’s jaws at birth and according to dentists, teeth and gum care should start even before your baby’s first tooth comes in. This is because baby teeth can get cavities and decay, which then increases the likelihood of the cavities reoccurring in permanent teeth.

So how do you go about caring for your child’s teeth? Keep reading to find out.

The Importance of Healthy Baby Teeth 

Healthy baby teeth perform a lot of functions, such as; forming the shape of your child’s face, making chewing and talking easier, and holding spaces open for the permanent teeth to come in.

Your Child’s Path to Oral Health 

The Role of Fluoride – Fluoride plays a very important role in your child’s dental health. It can help reduce cavities in both primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. Fluoride also helps in making your child’s teeth strong by hardening their tooth enamel. Most cities add fluoride to their tap water, so your child can get fluoride from drinking water. In situations where your child doesn’t drink tap water or their water doesn’t contain fluoride, you can talk to your dentist about giving them an oral fluoride supplement. Your child will also get fluoride cleaning on their teeth once they start going to the dentist for checkups.

Bear in mind that too much fluoride can be harmful and even cause tooth stains, so make sure that you carefully follow instructions when giving your child fluoride supplements. Also, make sure that your child doesn’t swallow fluoride toothpaste (or mouthwash).

Brushing – Your child’s dental hygiene should start as soon as possible (when your child is a baby), even before their first tooth comes in. When your child is 1 or 2 years old, you can start using a child-size toothbrush with soft bristles to brush their teeth. The brushing should be done twice a day with water and a small dab of fluoride-free toothpaste, which is safe in case your child swallows some of it. 

Only start using fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough to spit out the paste when brushing. Remember to only use a small amount of toothpaste and teach your child to spread it among their gums, teeth and tongue. You can even talk to your dentist about showing you the right way to brush your child’s teeth.

Until they are around the age of 7 or 8, your child will need help with brushing their teeth. Ensure to switch out their toothbrush every 3-6 months. Brushing should be done for two minutes twice a day. Also, make sure that your child brushes their teeth every night before bed (once all eating and drinking, except for water, is done).

Don’t Forget to Floss – As soon as your child has two teeth side by side, you can begin flossing. Flossing should be done once a day. By the age of 10, your child should be able to floss on their own. You can, however, make things easier for them by buying floss with handles.

Cavity Prevention – Cavities are teeth holes that form when bacteria build up in the mouth. It is quite common in children because baby teeth can be harder to brush. Other risk factors for cavities in children include; low birth weight, babies born prematurely, brown areas or white spots on the teeth, ongoing special health care needs and irregular dental checks.

You can prevent cavities by starting good oral hygiene early (brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing), and avoiding (or limiting) sugary foods, candies and juices that tend to erode tooth enamel. If your child does consume any of these foods, make sure they brush their teeth right after. 

Regular visits to the dentist for routine checks and cleaning can also help prevent cavities.

Mouth Safety – This is another important part of dental hygiene. If your child is actively involved in sports, then they should always wear a mouth guard. This soft, plastic retainer covers the teeth (and lips) and protects them from injuries. You can talk to your dentist about getting a custom-fit mouth guard for your child if necessary.

When to Start Seeing a Dentist 

It is recommended that your child starts seeing a dentist around or after their first birthday. These dental visits provide an opportunity for the dentist to look for signs of early problems with your child’s teeth. The dentist can also educate you on proper oral care for your child.

When you start taking your child to the dentist from a young age, they will learn to become more comfortable with dental checkups. It can also help them establish the habit of getting regular dental checkups.

Conclusion

Proper oral care is a necessity, and it should start from a young age. Regular brushing and flossing with fluoride toothpaste is important for keeping your child’s teeth clean, strong and free from cavities. You should also keep the sugary foods your child consumes in check and make sure that they see the dentist regularly.

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