Handling Your Child’s Oral Health
What You Should Know About Your Child’s Oral Health
Here at the Clarksville, Tennessee dental office of Carter Periodontics we know how important it is to get your child started on a good oral health program. So when should you start brushing? You should actually be cleaning their gums with a wet washcloth before your baby has teeth. Getting started early helps prevent tooth decay. Sadly, by kindergarten, more than 40% of kids have cavities.
Your child should see a dentist by his or her first birthday. Preventative medicine will save you money in the long run. Once your child starts developing teeth you can start using a baby brush with softer bristles, twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste (make sure they don’t swallow it). Start flossing once per day after teeth start touching each other.
Ditch the Juice
To prevent decay, avoid putting a child to bed with a bottle of juice, formula, or milk. The sugars in those drinks cling to baby’s teeth, triggering cavity-causing bacteria. If you must give your child a bottle for bed, be sure it’s only water.
In fact, avoiding juice altogether is a good choice. While many believe that juice is a healthy choice, it has been linked to childhood obesity and tooth decay.
No Binky after Age Two
Although studies have shown that binkies in the first year may help prevent sudden infant death, long-term use (after the first year) can affect how the top and bottom teeth align and the overall shape of the mouth. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests, in that first year, using a pacifier when putting your infant to sleep, but not reinserting when baby falls asleep.
Beware of Medicines
Children’s medications often contain sugar which leads to tooth decay. And some medications used for chronic illnesses such as asthma and heart problems, and even antibiotic medications, can cause an overgrowth of candida (yeast) which can lead to a fungal infection called oral thrush. Signs of this infection are white, curd-like patches inside the mouth and on the tongue.
Talk to your dentist about how often to brush your child’s teeth while on long-term medications. It could be as often as four times daily.
Be Firm, But Patient
Kids should start brushing their own teeth with adult supervision around two or three. But they should not brush alone until they can tie their shoe or write in cursive—age six or so. Flossing alone comes around age ten. It is also helpful to have your kids start brushing before they get tired and grouchy. It also helps to motivate them with gold stars on a chart, or brush with them. Older kids can choose their own toothpaste from options you approve.