Childen's Dental Care Tips
Many patients ask us for advice on how to care best for their children’s teeth. There are definitely ways to keep your kids’ teeth healthy at home, between regular check ups. Here are our children’s dental care tips:
– Your child’s dental health is something to start thinking about even before they are born. A child’s teeth form between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, so to ensure proper development of teeth, expectant mothers should be sure to get plenty of calcium.
– Even before your baby’s teeth begin to erupt, generally between six months and one year, they are already fully formed in the jaw. From birth, get into the habit of wiping your baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad after each feeding to remove food and bacteria that can lead to plaque build up.
– Schedule your child’s first dental appointment by one year of age. Dr. Kotre will check for signs of tooth decay at that appointment, and address any concerns such as persistent thumb sucking.
– We do not recommend using toothpaste for children under two years of age. Once teeth begin to erupt, brushing with water is generally sufficient. You may also consider some pastes that are specially formulated for children, such as MI Paste, available from Dr. Kotre, or those in the JASON Naturals Kids Only! line. Once children can be trusted to not swallow adult toothpaste, usually around age two, regular toothpaste in pea-sized amounts may be used.
– Begin teaching proper brushing techniques as soon as your children are able to understand. Most kids are able to brush their own teeth well by age six or seven. We do not recommend allowing your children to brush their own teeth without your direct supervision before that time; otherwise, they may not be getting their teeth completely clean. Show your children how to use a gentle, circular brushing motion on all tooth surfaces, and encourage thorough rinsing so they do not swallow the toothpaste once finished.
– Once two teeth appear next to one another, you should begin flossing between your child’s teeth. Childhood carries are unfortunately very common, and flossing in these hard-to-reach areas is the only way to avoid decay.
– Help instill a positive attitude towards dental check ups in your child starting with their first dental visit. One way to do this is by reading together. There are many great books out there for children on the subject of going to the dentist and dental care in general. Setting a good example via your own oral health care practices can also be helpful.
– Take as active a role in your child’s dental health care as you would with their other medical care. This includes telling Dr. Kotre or one of our hygienists if your child is ill, about any dental problems you have have noticed, if your child has any allergies to medications, and what medications, if any, your child is taking. Always feel free to ask any questions you may have, and continue to ask if you need additional clarification. Dr. Kotre has three young children of her own, and is always happy to take the time to explain procedures or treatment recommendations thoroughly.
– Watch your child’s diet. Sweet and/or sticky foods, or foods high in carbohydrates, are very hard on teeth. Children who eat a large amount of these types of foods generally have more cavities. Also be sure to avoid sugary drinks, which coat the teeth and allow bacteria to thrive. If you child does drink sugary beverages, be sure they are consuming them in one sitting and then brushing, and not allowed to sip them over the course of the day.