Dental Health Care for Children: What Parents Need to Know

Dental Health Care for Children: What Parents Need to Know

  • Posted: Jul 26, 2016
  • By:
  • Comments: Comments Off on Dental Health Care for Children: What Parents Need to Know

Caring for your child’s teeth should begin shortly after birth, well before the first tooth erupts usually around six month of age. Though they are not yet visible, the baby already has its 20 primary teeth at birth. Early dental care sets in motion a habit that will help protect the teeth for life.

The risk of tooth decay begins as soon as the first tooth appears. The good news is tooth decay can be prevented and pre-emptive measures should begin during infancy.

0-1 Year

Beginning a few days after birth get your baby used to having the gums cleaned after eating. Protect your baby’s teeth by cleaning the gums with a wet washcloth or gauze pad after every meal to remove harmful cavity causing bacteria. Bacteria can affect primary or baby teeth even before they are visible.

Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice, formula, or milk. If you must use a bottle at bedtime only use a small amount of plain water. The sugar and acid from juice or milk will sit in the baby’s mouth while they are sleeping and can cause damage to the enamel of the teeth. This is called “bottle mouth.” Symptoms of bottle mouth include teeth that are discolored or pitted. If your baby has signs of bottle mouth you should make an appointment with a pediatric dentist.

Once teeth begin to come in begin brushing the teeth with a toothbrush made for infants. Using only plain water gently brush the teeth. Do not use toothpaste, at this age children are too young to spit the toothpaste out and swallowing toothpaste could be harmful.

Infants should have their first dental appointment as soon as the first tooth appears or no later than the first birthday.

2-5 Years

Beginning at two years of age children may begin brushing their teeth with toothpaste made specifically for young children that does not contain fluoride. At three children may begin brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. If the child uses a fluoride toothpaste be sure to only use a small amount as too much fluoride may be harmful to the teeth. The correct amount of toothpaste is the size of a pea. Brushing should be supervised by a parent or an adult until at least age 5.

Having set meal times for the child will help prevent sugars and acids sitting on the teeth all day long. Give the child water to drink between meals instead of juice or milk to help prevent tooth decay.

Flossing should begin as soon as the child has two teeth that touch. It is perfectly normal for baby teeth to have spaces between them as this allows more room for the permanent teeth to come in.

If possible use a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to deal with the oral healthcare needs of children. A pediatric dentist completes two to three years of specialty training to treat dental problems specific to children and adolescents. Pediatric dentists also receive training to care for children with medical, physical, and mental disabilities.

Help your child break the habit of drinking from a bottle, sucking their thumb or pacifier before age 4. These habits can result in misaligned teeth or an over or under bite as permanent teeth come in. It is easier to prevent these dental problems than to correct them later on.

We hope this dental care information is helpful and puts your child on a course to lifelong good oral health.