Are you worried about your child’s dental health? Well you should be as good dental hygiene habits should begin before your child’s first tooth comes in. You can wipe your baby’s gums with a soft wet cloth twice a day. Apply an oral fluoride supplement according to your doctor’s prescription. Cavities are common in children and your child may be at risk of cavities if he/she eats too many sugary foods. You must consider these risk factors:
- Was born prematurely
- Has special healthcare needs
- Has white or brown spots on teeth
- Ensure that your children visit the dentist often
Children with a cavity-ridden family background can inherit it from their parents. You should ensure that you visit the dentist at least twice annually. It is advisable to take your children to the dentist around their first birthday.
Why Healthy Teeth are Important
Brushing twice a day will keep your children’s teeth healthy and keep on breaking down the plaque. Brush all of their teeth and not just the front ones, pay attention to the teeth on the sides and at the back. Teach your children how to floss their teeth. The floss will help get rid of what is hidden from your toothbrush. Brush and clean your tongue as it will keep your mouth fresh.
1) For 0-2 Years
Good healthy baby teeth usually pave the way for good healthy adult teeth. When a baby is born, the first set of teeth is already just under the skin and usually comes through at around 6 to 12 months. All twenty baby teeth come through by the age of three.
• Bottle Feeding
Never give sweet drinks in a baby bottle as this is harmful once the baby’s teeth start appearing. Infants and toddlers must not be put to bed with a bottle. A baby’s bottle should only be used for feeding and not as a pacifier.
Some babies get sore gums when they are teething. However, teething doesn’t make a baby really sick, so any child should be taken to a doctor and not be passed off as just teething. Not all children need pacifiers but make sure that your child’s pacifier is the correct design if needed. Try using it when only it is absolutely necessary as this may have long term effects on the way your baby’s teeth grow.
• Baby Bottle Decay
Baby bottle decay is caused by frequent exposure to sugary liquids which pool around the teeth for long periods of time as your baby sleeps, leading to cavities. Opt to give your child water or a pacifier after every meal instead. Wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a clean, damp washcloth after each feeding.
2) For 3-5 Years
At this point your 3-6 year old child will be busy developing language skills. This is the perfect age for you to teach him about good dental habits. Start flossing your children’s teeth as soon as they come out. Keep your children away from cigarette smoke and teach them about the dangers of smoking. Eating a well-balanced diet is important in preventing cavities and ensuring good general health, cavities are the result of what your children eat as well as the frequency of their meals.
• Thumb sucking
Thumb sucking gives babies a lot of pleasure and there is no real harm in it, and most children will stop on their own by the age of 4 after which it becomes a problem.
3) For 6-9 Years
Children start losing their baby teeth at around 6 years of age. From the age of 6 to 12 years of age, children have a mixture of baby and adult teeth. Make sure that your child eats healthy food throughout his ordeal of losing teeth as chewing becomes difficult. Your child can start using fluoride toothpaste once he turns 6. Your child might need dental sealants to prevent cavities, but these don’t last forever hence you should schedule regular visits to your dentists.
• Dental Injuries
Children are likely to hurt their mouths through various injuries. Take your child to a dentist if
they hurt their mouth or teeth.
8 Quick Tips
1. Have a checkup done
2. Teach good habits
3. Avoid “baby bottle decay”
4. Decrease drinking of juice
5. Restrain the sippy cup
6. Discard the pacifier by the age of 2-3 years
7. Watch out for sweet medicine
8. Brush, floss and rinse religiously
Good dental care begins before a baby’s first tooth appears as babies can also develop tooth decay if good feeding habits are not practiced. Putting your baby to sleep is convenient but is harmful as the sugars trapped on your baby’s teeth can eat away at the enamel and create a condition called Bottle Mouth. Pocked, pitted or discolored teeth are a sign of Bottle Mouth. Kids with severe Bottle Mouth may develop cavities and need all of their front teeth pulled out which leaves enough room for their permanent teeth to grow back but is still painless nevertheless. Parents should be encouraged to set up specific drinking times for their kids each day as sucking a bottle the whole day is harmful.
Regular checkups and good dental hygiene can prevent the need for this kind of extensive dental work. Also encourage your kids to use a mouth-guard during sports. As your kids grow, plan on routine dental checkups anywhere from once every 3 months to once a year, depending on your dentist’s recommendations. Keep sugary foods in check and encourage regular brushing and flossing, and working with your dentist will contribute to your child’s good health.
Author: Dr Amruta Patel is a warm and compassionate dentist caring for the community of San Antonio, TX. Dr. Patel attended Marquette University, where she received both her dental degree and her bachelor’s degree.
She practices at All About Smiles, where she provides cosmetic braces, endodontic treatments, implants, and veneers, as well as basic general dental services. During her consultations, Dr. Patel fully explains patients’ conditions and helps them choose an appropriate treatment plan. Outside of practicing dentistry, Dr. Patel enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs.