September 16, 2019 by Ryan Daniel
If you are a parent to a young child or teenager, you might have lots of questions when it comes to their good oral health – especially when it is your first time handling these kinds of situations. When is the right time to visit a dentist for the first time? Should my 6-year-old floss? At what age can my teenager start wearing braces?
Many parents have a hard time determining just how much dental care their kids needs. Of course, they know that they should prevent the formation of cavities, but most of them do not know the best way to do so. Read on for some tips and guidelines on how you can help your children achieve better oral health.
Oral Health Care for Babies and Toddlers
Just like mom and dad, even small kids need to get regular checkups. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children should start going to the dentist by the time they reach one year old, or when their first tooth appears.
But even before they reach their first year, you should already be taking steps to take care of their teeth and gums. Yes, they will eventually lose them, but baby teeth plays a big role in helping a child talk and chew properly. They are also crucial in creating a path for the permanent teeth that will follow. Here are some tips for baby and toddler dental health.
· For babies with no teeth yet, clean the gums twice daily: after breakfast and after the last feeding of the day. If you can, clean them after every feeding. Start to brush your kid’s teeth with a little water once their first tooth appears.
· Never put your child to sleep with a feeding bottle of milk, juice or any kind of sweetened liquid. For those babies who need a bottle to sleep, fill it with water instead.
· Soothe a teething child by letting them chew on a cool spoon, cold wet washcloth or a clean teething ring. You can also try rubbing your child finger in the child’s gums.
· Once your kid reaches the age of two, start giving them supervised brushing sessions. Place a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled brush and teach them to spit the toothpaste out once they are done. Remember that swallowing too much fluoride can stain teeth permanently.
· If your child is taking medicine, get them to brush their teeth afterwards. Most medicines come with sugar that can be converted to acid and ultimately damage the tooth enamel.
· Choosing the right dentist for your kid is up to you. It helps to know that pediatric dentists get about two to three years of additional dental training so they can better address the specific needs of infants, kids and adolescents.
Oral Health Care for Pre-Teens and Teens
Pre-teens and teenagers will still get care from their pediatric dentists, but their basic dental health needs are almost practically the same with adults at this age. And even if they can do oral care on their own, you should still check into their routines from time to time. Here are some tips for pre-teens and teen dental health.
· Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste that has ADA’s Seal of Acceptance
· Floss at least once a day
· Maintain a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits, and low in sweetened food and beverages.
· Limit snacks in-between meals, especially on food items high on sugar
· Drinks lots of water
· Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
As a parent, it is important that you let your kids know the importance of strong and healthy teeth. This means that, aside from the tips above, they should also not use their teeth as potato chip bag openers, fork tine straighteners and ice crushers. This way, you can face the world and confidently flash their pearly whites.