February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which makes this a great time to go over important oral care tips for kids. Following these tips on a regular basis helps ensure that your children’s teeth and gums stay healthy, and lowers their risk of cavities and other oral heath problems.
You don’t have to wait for your children to reach a certain age before starting an oral health routine. When they’re still infants, wipe off their gums and baby teeth using a damp, clean washcloth. Ideally, you should do this each time you’re done feeding them.
Brush Baby Teeth
Baby teeth don’t last forever, but it’s still crucial to care for them as you would care for permanent teeth. This keeps them healthy and helps ensure that permanent teeth can come in without any problems. If they need to be removed early because of severe cavities or decay, the permanent teeth may not have space they need to erupt. Brush your baby’s teeth using a toothbrush with soft bristles. Only put a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste (a “smear”) on the brush when you’re cleaning your baby’s teeth. You can also choose to use fluoride-free toothpastes until you feel comfortable that no toothpaste is being swallowed.
Show Children How to Brush
Children need help brushing at first, but you can begin teaching them how to brush when they are at least three years old. Keep in mind that you should also start flossing their teeth when they are around four years old, or whenever the spaces between the teeth are no longer present (your dentist can tell you when if you’re unsure). Although they won’t be able to handle brushing and flossing on their own until they’re around six years old, it’s important for you to routinely demonstrate the correct way to do so. When brushing, make sure that you clean the inner surfaces of teeth first, then clean the outer parts. Move the brush gently back and forth when cleaning the inner parts, and hold the brush at an angle when brushing along the gum line. Show your children how to brush their tongue as well to reduce bacteria even more.
Offer Healthy Snacks
Children enjoy snacking but keep in mind that some of these foods can hurt their teeth. Avoid giving your children snacks that are filled with sugar, which increases their risk of cavities. Instead, offer your children healthy snacks, such as string cheese, carrot sticks or apple slices. Sugary foods encourage harmful bacteria, which can lead to tooth decay.
Schedule Routine Exams and Cleanings
Brushing and flossing aren’t enough to ensure that your children’s teeth and gums stay in good condition. Schedule routine dental cleanings and exams to help your children maintain optimal oral health. These appointments allow your children’s dentist to check for signs of any dental problems that might be developing and eliminate plaque buildup on teeth, reducing the risk of tooth decay.
Keep Cavities at Bay
Dental sealants and fluoride help lower your children’s risk of developing cavities. Dentists can apply sealants to keep food particles out of the grooves in your children’s teeth, while fluoride applications given during routine cleanings can help maintain strong tooth enamel.
If your children need a routine cleaning and exam, please contact Brewery District Dental to schedule an appointment with our family dentist.