Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy

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keeping your child's teeth healthy

10 Oral Problems & Solutions

Keeping your child’s teeth healthy answers your questions on how much dental care your children need and how to go about resolving their dental issues. Many parents have a difficult time deciding when to make a child’s first appointment with the dentist. Or decide if your 4-year-old should be flossing. Or choose what type of toothpaste to use. The reality is that you know you want to prevent tooth decay and gum diseases. But you don’t always know how to go about it. Keeping your child’s teeth healthy is a must-read if you have concerns.

When To Start Caring For Your Child’s Teeth

Proper dental care begins even before a baby’s first tooth appears. Remember that just because you cannot see the teeth does not mean they are not there. Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw. The following mouth-cleaning tips will help:

  • Running a damp washcloth over your baby’s gums following feedings can prevent the buildup of damaging bacteria.
  • Once your child has a few teeth showing, you can brush them with a soft child’s toothbrush or rub them with gauze at the end of the day.
  • Even babies can have problems with dental decay when you don’t practice good feeding habits at home. For instance, putting your baby to sleep with a bottle in his or her mouth may be convenient in the short term – but certainly not a good idea. This is because the sugars from juice or milk remain on your baby’s teeth for hours, and may eat away at the enamel, creating a condition known as bottle mouth.
  • Help young children develop set times for drinking during the day because sucking on a bottle throughout the day can be equally damaging to young teeth.

How To Prevent Oral Problems And Maintain Healthy Teeth

keeping your child's teeth healthy

You may want to take your child to a dentist who is trained to handle a wide range of issues on your child’s dental health. They also know when to refer you to a different type of specialist such as an orthodontist to correct an overbite or an oral surgeon for jaw realignment.

A child dentist’s primary goals are prevention, and shoving off potential oral health problems before they occur. And maintenance, ensuring through routine checkups and proper daily care that teeth and gums stay healthy.

Start early brushing and flossing

Dentists recommend that your child’s first visit to the dentist take place by his or her first birthday. At this visit, your child’s dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques. You need to floss once your baby has two teeth that touch. Equally, conduct a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap. Such dental visits can help in the early detection of potential problems. Your child also will become accustomed to visiting the dentist, which means he or she will have less fear as he or she grows older.

Fight cavities with fluoride

keeping your child's teeth healthy

When your entire child’s primary teeth have come in around 21/2 years, your dentist may start applying topical fluoride during your child’s visits. Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, helping to ward off the most common childhood oral disease, dental caries, or cavities. Bacteria and food that are left on the teeth after eating cause cavities. When these are not brushed away, acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole – or cavity – forms. Regular use of fluoride toughens the enamel, making it more difficult for acid to penetrate. Even though most toothpaste contains fluoride, toothpaste alone will not fully protect a child’s mouth. Be careful, however, since too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration. Check with your dentist before supplementing.

Brush after taking medicine

keeping your child's teeth healthy

Discoloration can also occur as a result of prolonged use of antibiotics, as some children’s medications contain a large amount of sugar. Parents should encourage children to brush after they take their medicine, particularly if the prescription will be long-term.

Brushing and flossing twice a day

keeping your child's teeth healthy

Brushing at least twice a day and routine flossing will help maintain a healthy mouth. Children as young as age 2 or 3 can begin to use toothpaste when brushing, as long as they are supervised. Children should not ingest large amounts of toothpaste – a pea-sized amount for toddlers is just right. Parents should always make sure the child spits the toothpaste out, instead of swallowing.

Teach good oral habits

Parents must work with their children to teach good oral habits. Eating sweets and chocolates uncontrollably or slacking off on daily brushing and flossing must be resisted by parents.

When To See A Dentist

keeping your child's teeth healthy

If you are prone to tooth decay or gum disease, your child may be at higher risk as well. Therefore, sometimes even the most diligent brushing and flossing will not prevent a cavity. Be sure to call your dentist if your child complains of pain in his or her teeth. The pain could be a sign of a cavity that needs to be treated. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to question the dentist. Giving your child an early start on check-ups and good dental hygiene is an effective way to help prevent any kind of extensive dental work.

Bottom Line

Finally, as your child grows, keeping your child’s teeth healthy should include a plan for routine dental check-ups. This should be anywhere from once every 3 months to once a year, depending on his or her dentist’s recommendations. Limiting intake of sugary foods and regular brushing and flossing all contribute to your child’s dental health. Your partnership with your child’s dentist will help keep your child’s teeth healthy and his or her smile beautiful.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

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