Having healthy teeth is all about starting good habits at an early stage. Since parents are the best teachers to help kids learn good behaviors and maintain a routine, we have a list of do’s and don’ts for caring for your child’s teeth.
The first teeth to push through a baby’s mouth break through the gum line between 6 months and a year. Tooth decay can start as soon as the first tooth breaks through their gums. Formula, milk, juice, and food can create plaque in the mouth. The acids from the sugars break down the enamel and result in tooth decay. If left untreated, cavities can lead to a rotten tooth which can require extensive and expensive treatment.
Caring for Your Child’s Teeth do’s
- Visit your dentist office regularly: Your dentist is the best person to help you map out a plan that creates healthy oral hygiene habits. According to the American Dental Association, your child should visit the dentist office no more than six months after the first tooth erupts.“Regular exams are crucial to preventative care and cleaning. Our team at Scuba Smiles, with our extensive training, can also spot any problem areas that may not be visible to a parent and stop problems from getting worse,” said Dr. Lela Farmer, who heads up the pediatric dental practice at Scuba Smiles for Kids.
- Brush with fluoride: Fluoride is one of the best ways to prevent cavities in children and adults. It’s a natural element that makes teeth stronger. Studies reveal that early exposure to fluoride can actually make teeth more resistant to bacteria and acid attacks from food. If your child doesn’t like brushing their teeth, try making their brushing into a game. You can join them, play a song, and supervise their techniques. It might even help you brush your teeth better! The American Dental Association recommends you squeeze out enough toothpaste to equal the size of a grain of rice for children 3 years old and younger.
- Floss like a boss: This follows brushing teeth as a no-brainer for your children. You’ve heard your dentist say it before. Brush twice a day and floss. The same goes for your kids! Flossing helps remove pieces of food stuck in their teeth and prevents the build up of plaque.
Caring for Your Child’s Teeth don’ts
- Avoid milk bottles at bed: According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, putting a child to bed with a bottle of milk can be harmful. The seemingly innocent routine exposes their teeth to sugar and can increase tooth decay. Instead, skip the bottle or give water to your baby at bedtime.
- Limit sugar: Make sure your children are eating nutritious and healthy meals. Candy, sugary drinks, and foods loaded with salt are bad for the teeth. The bacteria in the mouth feed off of the sugars from these types of foods.
- Clean pacifiers and no sharing: The American Dental Association recommends cleaning off pacifiers that fall out of child’s mouth with water and soap. If it happens to fall out, don’t put it in your mouth and give it back to your baby. You’re actually introducing new germs to your baby’s mouth. The same rule goes for utensils.
“It is critical to introduce your children to healthy oral hygiene at an early age,” stresses Dr. Farmer, “and it does not take a strenuous effort on your part to help teach your children that healthy brushing and flossing are vital for their health long term. Make it fun. Help your children see the joys of brushing and flossing, and the good habits they learn early are more likely to last a lifetime.”