As a parent, it’s difficult to know how much dental care our kiddos need. We know we want to prevent cavities, but don’t always know the best way to do so. Here are commonly asked questions and guidelines to help you lay the foundation on the dental health for kids topic to keep those little pearly whites sparkling.
When Should My Kids Start Brushing Their Teeth?
Dental health for kids begins before your baby’s first tooth appears. Just because you can’t see that first tooth, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Teeth begin to form during the second trimester of your pregnancy. When your baby is born, he has 20 primary teeth, some are fully developed, in the jaw.
Caring for those little chompers:
- Before your baby starts teething, clear away any harmful bacteria by running a damp, clean washcloth over the gums.
- Once that first tooth comes through, brush it with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). Make sure to use fluoride toothpaste that carries the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of acceptance.
- You can begin flossing, once your baby’s teeth touch.
- Teach your child how to spit while brushing around the age of 2. Avoid giving him water to swish and spit, since it might make swallowing toothpaste more likely.
- Kiddos should only use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, starting at 3 years old.
- Children younger than 8 are more likely to swallow toothpaste, so make it a habit to always supervise them while brushing.
Even babies can develop tooth decay. Here are some feeding tips to avoid:
- Avoid putting a baby to sleep with a bottle. The sugars from juice or milk can harm their teeth, as they remain on a baby’s teeth for hours, eating away at the enamel. This can create a condition known as bottle mouth. Pitted or discolored front teeth are common signs of bottle mouth.
- Sucking on a bottle throughout the day can be just as damaging to young teeth.
- As young as 6 months, babies are encouraged to (with a hard spout or straw).
- At 12 months, they’ll have the coordination and to use the cup on their own.
Related Article: If You Sip & Snack All Day, You’ll Risk Tooth Decay
When Should Kids See a Dentist?
“Happy Birthday to You!!” The ADA recommends that little ones see a dentist by their first birthday. (Yep, dental health for kids starts early!) During this first visit, your dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques and do a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap.
These visits can help find problems early and help kids get used to visiting your dentist, so they’ll have less fear about dental visits as they get older.
If your child seems to be at risk for cavities or other problems, the dentist may start applying topical fluoride even before all teeth come in (this also can be done in the pediatrician’s office). Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, helping to ward off the most common childhood oral disease — dental cavities.
Dental Health for Kids: How Can We Prevent Cavities?
happen when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole — or cavity — forms.
Here’s how to keep cavities away:
- Teach your kids to brush at least twice a day (with fluoride toothpaste) and to floss regularly.
- Sugary foods, including juices and candy (especially gummy sticky candy, fruit “roll-ups” or gummy vitamins). They can erode enamel and cause cavities. If your kiddos eat these foods, have them brush their teeth or rinse their mouth after eating to wash away the sugar and bacteria.
- As your child’s permanent teeth grow in, your dentist can help prevent decay by applying a thin layer of sealant to the back teeth. This is where most chewing is done, and this protective coating keeps bacteria from settling into the crevices of the molars that are difficult to reach.
Dental Health for Kids: What Dental Problems Can Happen?
- Your kids might be at higher risk for tooth decay or gum disease if it’s something you deal with too. Truth be told, sometimes even the best brushing and flossing habits can’t prevent a cavity.
- Call your dentist if your child complains of tooth pain, it could be a sign of a cavity that needs treatment.
- Good dental hygiene and regular checkups can keep your dental health for kids in check.
- Avoid serious dental injuries by encouraging your kids to use a mouthguard during sports; accidents can happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Related Article: What to look for in a family dentist in San Antonio, TX
Dental Health for Kids: As They Grow
As our littles grow, schedule routine dental checkups at GPS Dental, typically twice a year. Don’t forget to limit sugary foods, encourage regular brushing and flossing, and work with your Dr. Skrobanek and his expert team. These simple dental health for kids tips will help your littles form healthy habits and continue a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Dr. Gary P. Skrobanek’s experienced and friendly team at GPS Dental offers family dentistry for all ages in San Antonio, TX area. Our Brooks City Base dentist office is conveniently located and offers early morning appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At GPS Dental, we promote dental health awareness to our patients and provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to dental implants, sleep apnea, TMJ / TMD Treatment, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at 210-633-3477 to make an appointment.