All parents want to keep their children’s teeth and gums healthy and clean. By starting an oral health routine at a young age, you’ll lay a foundation that creates good oral hygiene habits for life.
Plus, studies have shown that poor oral hygiene in the first two years of a child’s life can lead to tooth decay in primary, or baby teeth. Children who have cavities in primary teeth are much more likely to develop them in their permanent teeth.
So taking steps now to ensure good oral habits for your child is crucial. Before your child’s first dental cleaning, you should establish a healthy routine for your child.
As soon as your child’s teeth emerge, you should start cleaning their teeth. A soft washcloth wrapped around your finger is a good way to start. Even the softest brushes can be harsh on baby’s tender gums. You can start using a soft-bristled, child-sized toothbrush when your child has four teeth. If the brush is bothersome, you can certainly wait until your child is two to introduce a toothbrush, but you should continue to clean your child’ teeth with a cloth.
You can use fluoride toothpaste even when your child is young. Use toothpaste equivalent to a grain of rice until your child is three years old. Then you can transition to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush every morning and right before bed for two minutes at a time. When they have molars, show these teeth special attention, as cavities tend to occur here quite frequently.
Try soaking your child’s toothbrush in warm water for a few minutes before brushing to soften it further. Don’t forget to replace your child’s toothbrush every three to four months. If it looks frayed or if your child has been sick, replace it more often.
Flossing removes particles of food that get stuck between teeth, so it’s important to start flossing as soon as your child has two teeth that touch. Tear off 12-to-18 inches of a soft, pliable dental floss. Wrap the ends around your fingers and slowly thread the floss between your child’s teeth. Form a C-shape around the gum to ensure you’re adequately removing plaque. Be gentle on your child’s gums. Going slowly will help.
Floss at least once a day, but preferably two times. Repetition is key to helping your child become accustomed to flossing and learning to do it on his or her own. Even so, children are usually six or seven years old before they can floss their teeth without assistance. You can use floss picks or sticks instead of traditional floss to make the process easier on everyone as well.
Your dentist offers several services that will protect your child’s teeth. Sealants form a protective barrier on your child’s molars, preventing food from getting stuck in the nooks and crannies of these heavily-utilized teeth. The thin, plastic sealants can be quickly applied during an office visit. The treatment is painless and can be done during regular check-up appointments.
Fluoride treatments are another important part of preventive dental care. Once your child is six years old, he or she can use a fluoride rinse. These over-the-counter mouth rinses will keep teeth healthy and strong. Children as young as one year old can receive fluoride varnish during a visit to the dentist’s office. If you live in a place without fluoridated drinking water, your child should take a fluoride supplement. Your dentist can prescribe this for you.
Some water filters remove fluoride from tap water. Check manufacturer’s specifications to be certain.
Seeing a Dentist
Children should start seeing a dentist for routine care by the age of one or within six months of his or her first tooth’s appearance. The dentist will be able to closely monitor the development of your child’s mouth and teeth, ensuring a beautiful smile and a healthy mouth.
To schedule an appointment for your child, contact our office today at 352-989-5815. We look forward to becoming a part of your child’s healthy routine and establishing good oral health habits from a young age!