Children love sugar-loaded treats such as chocolate, and candy, among other starchy foods like fries. But they’ll run away at the sight of a toothbrush. It’s your duty as a parent to ensure that your children establish and maintain good oral hygiene early. Starting dental care early helps your child prevent tooth decay and other oral diseases. Many parents have a difficult time judging how much dental care their children need. Dr. Oleg Klempner can provide a few tips and guidelines on setting up the right oral care for your child. Here are some to help prevent cavities in children and help them keep a beautiful smile.
Good oral care should begin before a child’s first tooth appears. Teeth begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy, and at birth, your child has 20 primary teeth inside the jaw, some of which are fully developed. Thus, the baby’s teeth are there, even if the child hasn’t started teething. Clear bacteria away by running a clean cloth over the baby’s gums as regularly as possible. Once the baby’s teeth come out, brush them with an infant toothbrush, using a tiny bit of toothpaste (about the size of a rice grain) and water. You want to minimize the amount of toothpaste the baby swallows.
Begin flossing the baby’s teeth once they touch because they can trap food particles between them. By the time your baby is 2 years of age, they should know how to brush and spit by themselves with supervision. Don’t give your child water to swish and spit as this increases the chances of swallowing. Children above the age of three should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Always supervise children below the age of eight, as they are more likely to swallow toothpaste.
If good eating habits are not practiced, even a baby can develop tooth decay. Putting your baby to sleep with a bottle might be convenient for you but it might harm their teeth. Sugar from juice or milk might remain on the baby’s teeth for a long time, thereby destroying the enamel and causing a condition called bottle mouth. Some signs of bottle mouth include discolored, pitted or pocked teeth. Those with extreme cases of bottle mouth might develop cavities, forcing them to have all front teeth removed.
Parents and guardians should set specific times for children to drink or suck on a bottle. Sucking on a bottle throughout the day could be damaging to their teeth. Switch your baby from a bottle to a sippy cup as soon as they reach 6 or 7 months. The sippy cup should have a straw and hard sprout. By the time they are one year old, they should have the coordination and motor skills to use the cup on their own.
Seeing a Dentist
Children should start seeing a dentist by their first birthday. During this first visit, the dentist will explain proper tips and techniques to care for your baby’s oral health. The dentist will also perform a modified exam while the baby sits on your lap.
Visiting a dentist helps identify problems early, and helps children get used to dentists. Pediatric dentists are trained to care for children’s dental health and will refer you to a specialist in case there is a problem such as an overbite or jaw misalignment.