Many of today’s adults share common memories from childhood. Sunday drives, visits to grandma and grandpa, trips to the local playground or the city zoo, and hearing the iconic phrase – do as I say, not as I do – over and over again. Why? Because children are natural mimics and will do exactly what Mom and Dad do, no matter what it is. Of course, some of the things children mimic are things they shouldn’t do. But there is one daily habit parents can be proud of modeling for their children: Good oral hygiene.
Is Good Oral Hygiene Different for Children?
While many healthful habits are different for children than for adults, taking care of teeth is almost exactly the same: floss and brush daily, avoid certain foods and drinks, see your dentist regularly. Simple, right? Right. And easy to follow. For adults and motivated teenagers.
But for younger children, especially babies and toddlers, it’s a hard act to mimic. Nearly one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 11 has untreated tooth decay. Even baby teeth (now called primary teeth) can get cavities! And if cavities in primary teeth aren’t treated, permanent teeth could be negatively affected. Untreated tooth decay, even in early childhood, can lead to other dental and medical problems in adult life. Of course, all of those primary teeth will disappear eventually, but by the time that starts – when your child is around six years old — the damage from tooth decay will have already happened.
My Child Is Still a Baby. How Soon Should I Start?
Caring for your child’s teeth should start as soon as they come home from the hospital. It’s up to you to teach good oral hygiene habits, and here’s how to start:
Until your baby is about a year old, simply wipe their teeth with a soft, damp washcloth after the morning feeding and right before bedtime. This washes away bacteria and sugars that can cause tooth decay.
Never, ever let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. (As harmless as it may seem, this simple activity often generates tooth decay.) When teeth start coming in, usually around a child’s first birthday, begin using a soft child-size toothbrush and plain water.
When your child reaches toddler age, you can add a small dab of a non-fluoride toothpaste (non-fluoride toothpaste is safe to swallow).
As soon as your child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste, switch to one that has fluoride in order to give your child the extra protection fluoride provides.
You should introduce flossing — and demonstrate it — when your child starts brushing their teeth on the own. (Hint: the floss that comes on a plastic holder is easier for children.)
How Can I Make Good Oral Hygiene Habits Appealing?
Children get bored easily, we know, and caring for their teeth may not be as exciting as other things they could do. But children will understand caring for their teeth if you tell them (as one 5-year-old declared): “Plaque makes your teeth dirty, and you have to wash them.” It’s up to you, as a parent, to help make it interesting enough — even fun! — that they will establish a solid habit. Good oral hygiene habits will serve them well throughout their life. And they will look to Mom and Dad to learn what to do.
One of the most successful ways to instill oral health habits in your children is to make establishing those habits as much fun as the other things they enjoy. You know your children best, so you probably already have an idea of what will work. But just in case you’d like some fresh ideas:
Let your child choose their own toothbrush – their favorite color or a cartoon character they love. Just make sure the one they choose is a good size for their hand and has soft bristles.
If they want to, let them choose their own toothpaste, as well. They may not want the mint you like, but some companies have toothpaste with flavors like strawberry or watermelon.
Set up a system to reward your child for good oral care with something they’ll appreciate, such as staying up a little longer, watching a favorite movie, or being read a special story.
Avoid sugary treats or drinks as rewards, though. (This kind of defeats the purpose.)
Find a song your child likes and record exactly two minutes of it. Then play that two minutes when it’s time to brush. The American Dental Association advocates two minutes of brushing twice a day for both children and adults.
Best of all, let your child see you brushing your teeth correctly…and enjoying it. When children are young, anything Mom and Dad does is something they want to do, too, including brushing their teeth.
What if I Need a Bit of Help?
Come on in, and bring your child! At Lifetime Dental Health, we’ll be happy to discuss how best to handle your child’s at-home dental hygiene. We’ll explain ways to maintain your children’s teeth that are similar to how you take care of your own and explain anything you need to know based on the specific condition of your child’s teeth. In addition to setting the stage for healthy adult teeth, introducing children to dental care as early as possible can go a long way toward eliminating the fear some children experience when their first time in a dental chair includes lots of uncomfortable scraping and the scary sound of a dental drill.
To talk to one of our dental professionals or to make your first appointment, contact us. We’ll be happy to serve you and your little ones.
It’s no secret that the earlier a child begins regular dental care, the more likely they will maintain those habits into adulthood. One of the best things that parents can do for their child’s oral health is to start the conversations early and normalize visiting the dentist’s office as soon as possible. We’ve compiled a list of some of our most frequently asked questions related to children’s dentistry to help support parents through the early days of dental care for their children.
Why is children’s dentistry important?
One of the most important reasons that a child should go to the dentist is that it starts the evaluation of their oral health early on. It’s important to ensure that your child’s teeth and gums are healthy and strong so that they speak and chew properly as well as maintain good health. Visiting the dentist early will not only help identify any issues as soon as possible, but it will also get kids comfortable with going to the dentist from a very young age. Taking your child to a dentist that is experienced in children’s dentistry will help them feel more relaxed.
At what age should your child begin dental appointments?
It is recommended that children start going to regular dental appointments by their first birthday or within six months after their first tooth erupts. Usually, children get their first tooth by six months of age. If your child is older than this, please don’t worry. It’s still a good time to get regular dental appointments!
How frequently should your child go to the dentist?
A child should go to the dentist every six months, or at least once per year. Your dentist may ask that your child have more frequent visits if there are any concerning issues.
What should you expect at your child’s first dental appointment?
The first dental appointment is intended to be as non-invasive as possible. If the child is an infant, then most of the visit will be focused on talking with the parent about proper ways to take care of baby teeth. The dentist will likely take a peek at the teeth and gums to ensure that there are no alarming issues. Most of this visit is to familiarize the child with the dentist’s office and to provide the parents with an opportunity to ask questions.
What are some children’s dentistry tips for at-home care?
One of the best things that a parent can do for their child is to create an at-home dental care routine. The age of the child will greatly determine what that looks like. Baby: Dental care for a baby is pretty simple. Parents are encouraged to use a cloth to wipe down gums and teeth after feeding. Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle as the milk can build up on their teeth and cause decay. When your child starts teething, offer a cold washcloth or teething ring to help soothe pain and inflammation. Finally, avoid sharing utensils with your baby, as bacteria is transmissible and could cause tooth decay. Toddler: During the early toddler stages, parents should start using a toothbrush with only water to clean their child’s teeth. Be diligent in checking your child’s teeth for any sign of decay. This is a great time to schedule your first dental exam. Once the child turns two years of age, you can start using a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste to clean their teeth. You may also start showing your child how to brush their own teeth. School-aged and teens: At this point, your child should know how to brush and floss their own teeth without any assistance. Your child should have a clear understanding of good oral hygiene. Younger children may still need some reminding. However, it is also at this age that children may start to experience more serious dental concerns which may warrant fillings, crowns, or braces. It is incredibly important to continue regular dental checkups during these formative years.
How do you make dental appointments pleasant
Parents can certainly help children have a better time at the dentist. You can do this by always being positive about the dentist. Never use going to the dentist as a punishment. You may want to bring a comfort item that will help your child be more at ease during the visit.
Choose Lifetime Dental Health for Children’s Dentistry
At Lifetime Dental Health, we understand the importance of creating an environment where children want to be. It is critical that children have positive experiences in the dentist’s chair so that they are more likely to continue coming back when they are an adult. We are experienced in children’s dentistry, and we take the time to put our smallest patients at ease in order to feel safe and secure when they visit us. If your little one is in need of a dentist that is kind and compassionate, then please reach out to us. We are excited to work with parents to make this an education and good experience for everybody! Schedule your appointment today or give us a call at (614) 333-9442.
Children need healthy dental check-ups as much as adults do. Oral hygiene must be taught and practiced with children regularly and at an early age to prevent the many dental issues that can arise. Doctors suggest that healthy brushing habits must begin at age 2 or as soon as the teeth have grown in.
However, oral hygiene doesn’t only mean brushing and flossing. Regular dental checkups are equally important. Dentists examine oral health and give professional cleaning whenever needed.
What is the ideal time for a child’s first visit to the dentist?
Teething is a very exciting time for both parents and the child himself. Usually, children start teething at six months of age. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it is ideal to take your child to the dentist at one year of age. This is because most children start teething within the first year of life, making them eligible for their first visit to the dentist. It is good to develop early oral hygiene routine and address early teeth problems in kids like bottle feeding tooth decay, prolonged thumb sucking, etc.
Should I make any preparations for my child’s first visit?
Children are unpredictable. It is good to make little preparations before you take your little one to the dentist for the first time. On setting up an appointment, you can discuss your queries with your baby’s dentist to avoid surprises. This will help bring your expectations to a realistic level and makes the actual visit smooth and uneventful. You will have to provide birth and medical history record of the baby on the first visit. We recommend morning appointments or when your child is active and fresh. Keep excitement on your face so that your child doesn’t suffer anxiety.Lifetime dental can help you to have elaborated idea of your child’s first visit.
What should be my expectations on the first visit?
The first visit of a child generally aims to make him familiar with the environment at the clinic. Children at this age exhibit stronger anxiety and tend to be reluctant at the new place. Pediatric dentists make acquaintance with kids at their first visit mostly.
If the baby gets comfortable with his doctor, his preliminary examination begins with looking at the oral cavity, teeth, gums, jaws, palate and general oral anatomy. Gentle cleaning and polishing may also be considered depending upon the age and response of the child. Dental X-rays are done to know any bony defect, cysts or tooth deformity.
The second visit can be scheduled at this time, and it is dependent on the outcome of the first visit. If the first visit is complete and uneventful, the next appointment is usually after six months.
How can I take care of my child’s oral health?
Parents play a vital role in the oral hygiene of their babies and their dental hygiene routine for the rest of their lives. If parents introduce dental cleaning and brushing in early life, it positively affects their routine. Finger brushes with soft bristles are available and easily used by babies. It is an excellent way to introduce the oral care routine to the baby initially. Kids love it and have fun with too. Proper nutrition and feeding habits also have an important part to play in the oral hygiene of kids. Bottle feeding is sometimes harmful to developing jawline and palate. It is recommended that mothers try to breastfeed their babies initially and then feed through specially designed bottles, or cups.
Is it necessary to have a child’s dental X-ray on the first visit?
Pediatric dentists suggest dental x-rays in case a child suffers from congenital defects of jaw and palate; have a history of chronic thumb sucking or bottle feeding. He can also consider x-rays in case of teething problems and other related complaints by the mother. If there is no history or risk factor, X-rays are not needed on the very first visit.
What are the risks associated with a delayed or missed visit to the dentist?
It is believed that oral hygiene begins not just before tooth eruption; it begins before birth. However, when the first tooth appears, it is time for the first visit. If parents neglect the first visit to a dentist, they run the risk of making their baby prone to poor oral hygiene and poor general health as a result. Many congenital problems can be overlooked, and a lot of bad oral habits continue for life without intervention by a pediatric dentist in time. You are putting your child’s health at risk by delaying or missing his dental visits.
What if your child shows teeth at birth?
Natal teeth are very rare. They appear in 1/1000 births. It can be quite shocking for the parents to see their baby born with a tooth or two. They are usually present in the gum line and associated with some medical conditions or syndromes– for example, Sotos syndrome and Pierre Robin syndrome. So, you must visit your child’s dentist whenever you notice teeth before age in your child.
Can I take my toddler for the first visit if I missed in the first year of life?
As soon as you realize, you must take your child to the dentist and get his examination done. A toddler sometimes proves to be a bit difficult to handle at first visit. But you can always prepare your baby before you plan a visit. Toddlers can communicate better, so you can counsel him for dental examination and x-ray if needed. But, missing a dental visit is not a good choice. Visit as soon as you feel the need. It is not too late at this age, but once the bad oral hygiene habits develop, they are difficult to curb. And that will do no good to them.
Your child’s teeth are as important to us as your child is to you. If you want to know more about Pediatric Dental Health, feel free to Visit us or Call us Today!
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