Pediatric Dental Care Tips
Did you know that tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease in children in the U.S.? The good news is that tooth decay is mostly preventable with the right pediatric dental care which starts when your child is a baby and continues throughout their childhood. Below are some helpful tips to ensure your child will have excellent oral health.
Newborns – 2 years
Get in the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush. This will help your baby get used to the feeling of having their teeth cleaned so that they will be familiar with the process when new teeth start to appear.
This might surprise you, but never let your baby go to sleep with a bottle that contains juice or milk. These carbohydrates can cause a build of bacteria and acid throughout the night. The Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends only providing your baby with water at bedtime.
If your child depends on a pacifier, avoid dipping the pacifier in any type of sugary products such as honey or fruit juice.
Infants should be seen by a dentist around the time of their first birthday. This early pediatric dental care will help identify any problems and establish a plan to maintain good oral health as your child’s new teeth appear.
Brushing is the most important thing you can do to provide your child at-home pediatric dental care. Children should brush two times per day, with special emphasis on nighttime brushing.
Just like adults, children should see a dentist twice per year. Regular checkups and cleanings can head off potential problems.
It can be a challenge to get toddlers to give up the pacifier and bottle. However, it is important to make sure that your child has given them up by the age of three. Prolonged use of bottles and pacifiers can cause the front teeth to protrude. Even more harmful, the form of the mouth can change, including narrowing the palette and can potentially cause a smaller airway and sleep-disordered breathing which can lead to a host of other issues.
When your child’s teeth begin to come in next to one another, that is the time to start flossing. It is important to remove any debris between those tiny teeth that can cause cavities.
Talk to your child’s dentist to determine the right approach to introducing fluoride into the oral care process. Generally, toothpaste containing fluoride will be sufficient, but in some cases the dentist may recommend a fluoride supplement.
It is important to actively help with your child’s brushing until they are 8 years old. This will help them get in the habit of proper brushing and avoid future problems.
Flossing should be a regular part of your child’s pediatric dental care once they are in school. By this time, your child will have all of their baby teeth and will start getting permanent teeth. Keeping the space between the teeth clean is important to stave off cavities and gingivitis.
As your child starts to get more active and involved in sports, it is critical to make sure that they wear a mouthguard. Broken and chipped teeth are a common occurrence for children, so be sure your child’s teeth are protected. Ask your dentist which type of mouthguard is best for your child.
Be sure to minimize the amount of carbonated drinks your child consumes. Carbonated drinks can erode tooth enamel. Also limit sport drinks and juice that can elevate harmful acid levels that can damage teeth.
For more pediatric dental care tips, please visit our dental education resources.