Is there anything more precious than a child’s smile? To me, I really can’t think of anything better. So how do you as a caregiver help protect your child’s adorable smile? Here is some helpful information to guide you:
Why is protecting my child’s teeth important?
Some parents think their young child’s teeth don’t need to be cared for since their baby teeth are going to fall out eventually. However, poor oral hygiene can not only lead to cavities and gum disease now, but it can lead to more serious problems like permanent damage to adult teeth, dental abscesses (mouth infections), endocarditis (heart infection), and more!
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
As soon as your child’s first tooth starts coming in begin brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and a very small amount (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride containing tooth paste.
What is considered good oral hygiene?
The goal is to brush your child’s teeth twice a day, morning and night. These are hectic times of day getting everyone out the door and then ready for bed but try to make this a priority!
Flossing should begin once the teeth have grown close together and a toothbrush can not clean between them. Flossing should be done once a day.
Children under age three need to use a grain of rice size of toothpaste to brush their teeth.
Children three years and older need to use a pea size amount of toothpaste to brush their teeth. See picture below for an example.
Until children are 8 years old it is best to supervise them while they are brushing or flossing to make sure their teeth are cleaned properly. Once children can tie their shoe or are 8 years old, they typically have enough fine motor skills to clean on their own.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is in many foods and added to many areas water. It helps protect teeth by making the enamel stronger to prevent tooth decay. You may have heard some misinformation from people on social media that fluoride is unsafe but this is not true. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Dental Association recommend using a fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water. Think of fluoride like your teeth’s vitamin, that helps keep them strong!
When should my child see a dentist?
Your child should go see a dentist around the age of 1 or once they have had teeth for six months. After their first visit, it is recommended they see the dentist for routine check ups every 6 months. Routine check ups are important so you catch tooth decay early before it becomes a problem!
What other things can I do to keep my child’s teeth healthy?
NO JUICE! The AAP recommends children only drink milk and water. Juice is high in sugar and can cause tooth decay.
Limiting SUGARY treats and brushing your child’s teeth after them. Also, avoid having your child constantly snacking throughout the day, instead try to limit them to 3 meals a day and 2 snacks (unless you are told otherwise by your PCP).
Resist the temptation of letting your child sleep with a BOTTLE or prop a bottle while feeding. Prolonged exposure to milk can cause cavities. Also try to wean your child off of the bottle between the ages of 12-18 months.
Getting rid of the PACIFIER early. Try and have your child weaned off of the pacifier by age 18 months.
If you notice any brown or white SPOTS on their teeth make sure to bring them to your child’s dentist early, don’t wait until their routine check up.
If you have any other questions on how to care for your child’s teeth please comment below, call us/come see us at Johns Creek Pediatrics, or ask your child’s dentist.