The month of February is Children’s Dental Health Month. This is probably not a coincidence, with Valentine’s Day (and candy!) being in February as well. We all want our children to be healthy, and dental health is a big part of overall health. Here are some tips to help your kids have healthy teeth.
Did you know that a newborn’s twenty primary teeth are present at birth? Even before you r baby has teeth you can gently wipe the gums with a sterile gauze pad to help remove plaque. When the first teeth start coming in, you can purchase a special toothbrush for babies and gently brush the teeth with water.
To avoid early tooth decay, make sure your infant finishes any bottle feedings before bedtime. Avoiding beverages with sugar, like juices, also protects against decay. Your baby should stop using a bottle around 12-15 months of age. Sucking on a bottle as they get older can also cause overbites.
After your baby gets teeth, you should brush with a tiny bit of toothpaste, twice a day. Kids between three and six years old should be supervised while brushing. Use fluoride toothpaste and help them brush twice a day. Supervise them until you are sure they can brush on their own. Once they have two teeth that touch, you should help them floss daily.
Start your dentist visits around one year of age. You may want to go to a pediatric dentist so your child would be more comfortable. Pick the time of day that your child is most rested. When your child gets used to regular dental visits (normally every six months), they should not mind making that trip.
Once all of your child’s permanent teeth come in, your dentist may recommend sealants. Sealants are usually applied to the back (chewing) teeth. These sealants act as a barrier and protect those teeth. After a few years they may need to be reapplied, but your dentist will make a recommendation after each checkup visit.
As your children grow into teenagers there are some other concerns. Teens may not always eat healthy, so provide healthy and low-sugar snacks. Hopefully the habits they learned growing up, will stick with them, but reminding them to floss may be a good idea. Most schools require a mouthguard when playing sports, so make sure your teen always has it available and uses it. They may also want to start seeing an adult dentist, but that is a decision you can make together.
Starting early with good dental health will set your children up to be comfortable with the dentist. These early habits should continue as your kids grow, and help them have great oral health for the rest of their lives.