If you have children, chances are you’ve wondered if you are doing everything you should to protect your child’s teeth from bacteria and decay. You may have questions about when your child should first visit a dentist, when the right time is to begin brushing and flossing, and if there is anything else you can do to prevent tooth decay and cavities.
When habits are formed early, it is often easier to maintain those habits as we get older. As parents, it is important to begin thinking about oral health before your child’s first birthday, as many children develop cavities well before they turn five years old. Understanding how children get cavities and what you can do to prevent tooth decay can set your child up for better oral health as they grow older.
Early Stages of Dental Care
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should visit a dentist around their first birthday, or when teeth first begin to appear. Home care can begin even earlier to reduce bacteria growth and to promote healthy gums.
Before your child has teeth, you can use a soft washcloth to wipe their gums after feeding to combat bacteria. After teeth begin to arrive, you should begin brushing using an infant toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste. You should not use fluoridated toothpaste until your child is able to spit properly, usually at about age 2 or 3.
When Can My Child Brush Their Own Teeth?
Most children can begin brushing their own teeth with adult supervision when they are 2 or 3 years old. Once your child can spit properly, experiment with allowing them to do the brushing. Do not begin using fluoridated toothpaste until they learn to spit. Encourage healthy habits by brushing with your child, providing instruction and encouragement.
It may be a struggle to get some kids to brush twice a day. Seek ways to make brushing a fun, rewarding experience. Award gold stars, offer rewards or use music to make brushing more fun. You should supervise brushing until your child is older, and possibly perform a final brush until they get better about brushing all the surfaces of their teeth.
Flossing should begin whenever two teeth are touching. Brushing rarely gets all the food stuck between the teeth, especially the ones in the back of the mouth. Teach your child how to floss, or use special flossers or floss picks safe for use by kids. Flossing should be done daily.
Dental Sealants and Fluoride Usage
Dental sealants are often recommended for children, as sealants provide a barrier between your kids’ teeth and cavity causing bacteria. They are generally applied to teeth in the back of the mouth where most chewing takes place. The thin resin coating protects the teeth and allows them to get stronger as your child grows older.
Fluoride treatments can also be applied at the dentist to help teeth become stronger. Most municipal water supplies are treated with fluoride, and most toothpaste will contain a small amount of fluoride. Your dentist will be able to recommend additional fluoride supplements if necessary.
Establish Healthy Habits for Oral Health
It is important to encourage healthy habits early in life, as your child will continue these habits throughout life. Teach your child to brush and floss regularly, and work with your dentist to identify any other steps that may be necessary to promote healthy teeth and gums.
Visit the dentist regularly to check for early signs of tooth decay and to have sealants and fluoride treatments applied. Talk to your child’s dentist about any concerns or questions you may have about their oral health and dental care. More
Do you and your children know how to floss? For some parents this idea is laughable. You might think “I rarely remember to floss, how can I teach my children to floss?” When you visit the dentist, how to do you respond to the age old question, “are you flossing?” If your answer is no, then you will probably need some tips on how to teach your children to floss.
Opportunities Are Knockin’
The first step in teaching your kids how to floss is to show them that you are committed to flossing as well. This is a great time to not only help your children grow and improve, but you can improve yourself as well. The best practice is to floss with your children. You are making a lifestyle change for yourself and teaching your kids some valuable hygiene exercises!
Pick The Right Floss!
There is a wide variety of floss out on today’s market that will work for children. Some floss is even catered specifically to children and have fun texture and flavors. It is generally recommended that you use a soft floss to start out with.
Now, we need to learn how to properly hold dental floss to get the best results possible. You don’t want the floss to cut off circulation to your children’s fingers, but you also don’t want them to hold the floss too loosely. Make sure there is a good 12-18 inches of floss and that they know how to hold the floss properly.
Practice Makes Perfect!
On a daily basis show your children how to move the floss around in between their teeth. Make sure they aren’t making rough motions or they could cut their gums. Keep practicing and you and your children will be flossing pros in no time!
Is your family in need of a dentist in Blackfoot? Call Dr. Dennis Hatch today! Dr. Dennis Hatch is a highly experienced dentist in Blackfoot who strives to educate patients about oral hygiene. The staff at Hatch Dentistry care about you and your children and will make sure that every visit to our dental office leads to a great experience! Call us know to schedule an appointment today!
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, so it’s important to teach your child early about the importance of maintaining good oral health, especially during candy-focused holidays like Halloween, the winter holidays, Valentine’s Day and Easter. Not only does untreated tooth decay cause pain, it may also lead to infections that affect eating, speaking, and overall wellbeing. Fortunately, tooth decay and other oral diseases are preventable. Hatch Dental in Blackfoot is a general family dentist who is happy to answer questions about all your dental needs.
• Bring your child to his or her dentist for regular checkups.
• Protect your child’s teeth with fluoride.
• Talk to your dentist about dental sealants. Sealants protect teeth from decay and have the potential to nearly eliminate tooth decay in school-age children when used in combination with fluoride.
Teach Your Children These To-Do’s
• Make taking care of teeth fun! Let your child pick out their own toothbrush or perhaps make teeth brushing a family affair. It’s always fun to brush the tongue!• Brush teeth 2 times each day for 2 minutes
• Use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste
• Spit and don’t swallow
• Angle toothbrush against gums
• Brush back and forth, gently, in short strokes
• Brush the front, back, and top of teeth
• Brush tongue to remove germs and freshen breath
• Have your child floss daily to remove plaque from between the teeth and under the gum line, before it can harden into tartar.
Kids will generally need help with brushing until age six or seven. Beginning around age 4, begin flossing for your child. By the time they reach age 8, most kids can begin flossing for themselves.
A Few Facts
• Kids should use a soft toothbrush with a shape that will allow them to reach all areas of their mouth.
• Plaque is a sticky film of germs that forms on teeth and gums after eating. Plaque that’s not removed by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can lead to cavities.
• Taking good care of your own teeth sends a message that oral health is something to be valued.
• A balanced diet is necessary for your child to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth.
• Discourage frequent snacking between meals, especially sugary foods. The sugars and starches found in many foods and snacks like cookies, candy, and soft drinks attack the tooth enamel and may lead to cavities.
Call Hatch Dental in Blackfoot to schedule an appointment today. More