Your Child’s Dental Health Starts at Infancy

Teeth are essential to our health, but did you know that baby teeth are also necessary? Many people fail to keep up with their child’s dental health, in part because of misunderstandings surrounding the function of baby teeth. 

Additionally, when it comes to protecting baby teeth, diet is a huge factor, especially since toothpaste shouldn’t be used on infants. That means limiting the amount of sugar in your child’s diet is essential to protecting their teeth.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Your child’s teeth are important to their health, and caring for them starts before they even form. Baby teeth help your baby eat, form sounds and words, and are a placeholder for where the permanent teeth will reside. 

But tooth decay is the most chronic infectious disease in childhood, and decay doesn’t know to stop at the baby tooth. It can spread down into the adult tooth, too. Bearing this in mind, baby teeth should be taken care of until they’re gone.

What Dentists Recommend

Dentists agree that you should begin regular dental care by your child’s first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests the following timeline to help create good oral habits in infancy:

  • Birth to 6 months old: Establish regular feeding habits; use water and a soft cloth to clean your baby’s mouth after feedings.
  • 6 to 12 months old: Once your child’s first tooth comes in, make your first pediatric dentist appointment; brush any teeth after feedings using a small, soft-bristled brush but we advise against using toothpaste at this age. 
  • 1 to 3 years old: Continue visiting your dentist as often as they recommend, which is generally every six months; once your child learns to spit, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, brushing at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time

Tips for Parents

There are some things you can do, starting with your infant, that will help your child get used to daily oral health practices.

  • Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle as soon as possible
  • Have your child drink from a cup as soon as possible
  • Use fluoridated water or talk to your dentist about fluoride supplements
  • Don’t share utensils or use your saliva to clean pacifiers – doing so can spread bacteria that causes tooth decay
  • Invest in products that help your child learn to accept a toothbrush in their mouth

Things that Help & Harm 

Some things can harm the development of growing teeth, such as sleeping with a bottle, drinking or eating too much sugar, and thumb-sucking or using a pacifier. While it is okay to do the latter, the habit should not continue after age five so that permanent teeth are not affected.

Some products are helpful for developing teeth, many of which are great for infants and toddlers. Dental wipes are an alternative to a washcloth. Silicone finger brushes with nubs can be a good transition between a washcloth and a toothbrush. Toothbrush teethers and other teething toys can mimic toothbrushes while helping with teething. 

Why it all Matters

With so many issues that can be caused by neglecting your child’s dental health, taking action now can help set up proper oral care habits and prevent infection, disease, or other teeth problems. Knowing that it starts from birth and how important baby teeth are makes a difference in the action steps parents may choose to take. So even though these cute baby teeth eventually fall out, they matter, and so does taking care of them.

5 Tips for Getting Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth Twice a Day

When it comes to the health of our children, part of the role of being a parent is encouraging a healthy lifestyle. From the foods we eat to the amount of exercise we get, the habits that are formed at a young age can stick with children throughout their entire life.

Children’s dentistry is extremely important to the overall health of your child. Beyond regular dental checkups with a dentist, many other activities can impact your child’s dental health. Along with monitoring their diet by limiting sugary foods and drinks that result in cavities, daily brushing and regular flossing must also be part of the strategy.

But it isn’t always easy to get kids on board. Here are some tips for getting your kids to brush every day.

1. Soft bristle toothbrushes make a great teething toy for babies.

While it isn’t recommended to begin brushing your child’s teeth with toothpaste until around two years old, a soft bristle toothbrush can offer your little one some relief when teeth come through while also cleaning existing teeth. Like anything that goes into your child’s mouth, always monitor your baby when the toothbrush is being chewed on.

2. Show them that you do it.

Kids learn by example, so make sure that you’re practicing what you preach. The best way to teach your children how to brush and when to brush is to be there to show them what you do every day. If you’re not a twice daily brusher, having children is a great reason to become one! Now not only are you teaching your kids how to brush, but you’re making your own dental care a priority as well.

3. Make brushing part of the morning and bedtime routines.

When getting the child ready for the day and when it’s time for bed, make brushing their teeth a regular part of the process. The trick is to be consistent on when this happens each day and always be present to help them brush when they are just getting started.

4. Let them pick their own toothbrush.

There are a number of toothbrush brands that have superheroes printed on them, or have interesting shapes and even some that play music. The more your child likes the toothbrush, the more they will want to “play” with it. This will help make the process feel less like a choir and more like playtime.

5. Make it fun.

Every parent knows that it takes some creativity and persuasion to get kids to do what’s best for their health. Try to make brushing teeth a fun and playful event in the day. Make them laugh by letting the foam from the toothpaste spill all over your mouth and encourage them to do the same. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but whatever you can do to make brushing fun will help solidify it into their daily lives.

Those are just a few ideas but whatever creative ways you can think of to get your child to brush is great. The only thing we recommend is that they brush twice a day, for at least two minutes each time using a gentle circular motion an all areas of the teeth.

For any questions about children’s dentistry or to make an appointment for your child, contact us today.