How to Care for Your Child’s Teethby Shailesh Iyengar Writer
Healthy teeth are important to your child’s overall health. They help your child eat and talk. Strong oral care helps set good dental habits as your child grows. Poor oral care can lead to infection, disease, or other teeth problems.
Help make dental hygiene fun with these tips.
Let children help choose their toothbrushes. They can pick one that has a favorite color or character.
Let children help choose toothpaste: They can pick their favorite flavor.
Read books or watch videos that talk about dental hygiene.
Use a timer to make sure kids brush their teeth for 2 minutes. Or play their favorite song to help keep track of time.
Reward children for good oral care: Do not give them food or sugary treats. Offer something healthy or simple instead, like apple slices or a gold star.
Plan a fun activity following your child’s dentist visit.
Path to improved health
The role of fluoride
Fluoride is important to your child’s dental health: It is known to reduce cavities in baby (primary) teeth and adult (permanent) teeth. It also helps make teeth strong by hardening the tooth enamel. Most children get fluoride in drinking water. Many cities are required to add fluoride to tap water. Water filters, such as Brita, do not remove fluoride and are okay to use. You should not use “reverse osmosis” water filters.
If your water does not contain fluoride, your child may need to take an oral Fluoride supplement. Talk to your doctor to see if your child needs this. Once your child starts going to the dentist, they will get a fluoride varnish or cleaning on their teeth.
Too much fluoride can cause tooth stains and be harmful to your child’s health. Be sure your child does not swallow fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash. Follow all instructions for fluoride supplements.
Brushing and flossing
Dental hygiene should begin when your child is a baby. Start using a soft child-size toothbrush around the age of 1 or 2. You should brush your child’s teeth with water at least twice a day. You also can add a small dab of toothpaste that doesn’t have fluoride in it. This type of toothpaste is safe for your child to swallow. Once your child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste, you can switch to one that has fluoride. Only use a small amount. Teach your child to spread it among their teeth, gums, and tongue. Have your doctor or dentist show you the right way to brush your child’s teeth.
Your child likely will need help brushing their teeth until they are 7 or 8 years old. Around this time, they can start using a larger sized toothbrush. You should switch out toothbrushes every 3 to 6 months or when the bristles look worn. Children should brush their teeth for 2 minutes. Flossing is another key part of your child’s oral care routine. Teach your child to floss at least once a day. You can buy floss that comes on a handle to make it easier.
Cavities are holes that form in your teeth. These can occur when bacteria (germs) build up in your mouth. Sugar in food and drinks turns into an acid, which can eat away at your teeth. Cavities are common in children because their teeth can be harder to brush. Everyone in your family should take good care of their teeth. People who have cavities can pass the cavity-causing bacteria to unborn babies, infants, and children.
Your child may be at risk for cavities if they:
have white spots or brown areas on their teeth
have ongoing special health care needs
do not go to the dentist often
were born early (premature) or had a low birth weight.
Kids who eat a lot of sugary foods and drinks also are at high risk for cavities. It is important to make healthy food choices. Avoid too much sugar. Do not let your child have a lot of soda, fruit juice, or sweetened drinks. Limit sweet snacks and drinks between meals. If your child does have sugar, make sure they brush their teeth afterward.
Chewing gum is safe for older kids. It can provide benefits, such as:
strengthening the jaw
helping produce saliva
washing away bits of food
balancing acid that can cause tooth decay
However, gum that contains sugar can cause cavities. Limit the amount of sugar gum your child chews or only give them sugar-free gum.
Safety is another big part of dental hygiene. If your child plays sports, they should wear a mouthguard. This is a soft, plastic retainer that covers the teeth and sometimes the lips. It helps protect your child’s mouth from injuries. Talk to your dentist if you need a custom-fit mouthguard.
From baby teeth to adult teeth
In general, baby teeth start to appear between 4 and 7 months old. The first teeth to come in are usually the 2 bottom front teeth. Most kids have all 20 baby teeth by about 3 years of age.
Children can lose their baby teeth as early as 6 years old and as late as 12 years old. During this process, your child has a mix of teeth as baby ones fall out and adult one's breakthrough. Around this time, your dentist may talk to you and your child about possible teeth problems. Some kids need orthodontic treatment, such as braces. A full set of adult teeth is 32 teeth. This includes wisdom teeth, which most people do not get until their late teens or early adulthood.
Created on Sep 7th 2019 05:36. Viewed 1,972 times.
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