Caring for children’s teeth is important! Keeping your child’s smile developing properly will prevent cavities, dental surgeries or braces later on in life. If you are a new parent, use this time to teach your kids how to care for and value their teeth. Here are four things you can do to ensure that baby smile stays cute and healthy well into their teens.
1. Encourage Brushing
Any parent with kids knows that teeth brushing time can be a hassle. Use some simple motivators to help your children enjoy the time they take to brush their teeth with you. Change the toothbrush you use often and let your children choose the toothbrush and/or the toothpaste. A new, exciting toothbrush or toothpaste will make your children excited to brush their teeth. A mistake to avoid is to brush your child’s teeth directly before bed or directly after waking up. Don’t brush a child’s teeth too late because a tired child is not as cooperative. The same goes for waking up in the morning.
If your child is less than one year old, rub a damp cloth on their gums every night to remove excess plaque and bacteria from their gums. When teeth begin to come in, use a soft bristle toothbrush and water to brush new teeth. At age 3, begin to use fluoride toothpaste when you can teach them to spit it out. Also remember to use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste!
Flossing is imperative whenever there are teeth that come in next to one another. It is recommended that flossing be implemented even before toothbrushes because it helps strengthen gums that are soft from teeth coming in. Rub the floss softly between teeth to clean teeth and prevent cavities.
3. Mistakes to Avoid
If you are giving your child daily medicine, be sure to increase the amount of times you brush and floss their teeth. This is often overlooked, but many child medicines are sugary, syrupy substances that can cause tooth decay when left on the teeth for extended periods of time. Increase the amount of brushing to even as much as 4 times a day if needed, above the usual 2 times.
Don’t let small children drink bottles at night, or let children drink from sippy cups all day. Bottles drunk for extended periods of time cause “bottle mouth” which can lead to more extensive tooth decay and sometimes requires surgery to correct. Sippy cups don’t cause damage to the teeth unless the drinks are sugary, but they might cause shifts in the front teeth, causing them to come in crooked.
4. Recognize Emergencies
Accidents happen sometimes. Be sure to keep these few tips in mind so that you can help prevent accidents from affecting your child’s lovely smile.
If your child chips or loses a tooth, do not clean the tooth or wipe any part of it. Wrap it in a damp cloth or submerge it in a glass of milk to prevent it from decaying too quickly. Head directly to a dentist because there is a chance that the tooth can be reimplanted.
If your child is not exercising good habits with teeth cleaning, or gets a cavity too soon, consider getting dental sealants on new or adult teeth that come in. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that prevent tooth decay over a long period of time, and they are easy to install and remove. Speak with your periodontist if this is a good option for your child.