Helping a child to learn the habits of proper oral hygiene for preventing tooth decay should not be a difficult task for parents who may have followed similar practices in their lives. Parents of newborn children and toddlers may be confused about when the first trip of the child should be scheduled to the dentist or whether a three-year-old can begin to learn how to floss. They may even want to understand how to identify whether their child needs braces or not.
Many parents find it challenging to judge how much dental care their child needs. They are aware of the need to prevent tooth decay and cavities but they don’t always know the best methods to adopt to ensure success. The tips and guidelines provided in this article are aimed at parents of young children that are having a difficult time understanding the dental care needs of their children.
Babies do not have teeth but good dental care can begin even before the first tooth erupts. The teeth may not be visible but it does not mean they are not there. The teeth begin to form during the second trimester of pregnancy and by the time the baby is born 20 primary teeth are already in the mouth even though few are visible. Parents are recommended to use the following tips to care for the little chompers of the baby.
A clean and damp washcloth should be run over the baby’s gums to clear away harmful bacteria even before the baby starts teething.
An infant toothbrush should be used when the baby displays the first teeth. A small quantity of fluoride toothpaste and water can be used during the brushing. Using a fluoride toothpaste approved by the ADA is suggested while ensuring that the baby does not swallow any toothpaste.
The child should be taught to spit out the toothpaste by the age of two. Providing the child water to swish before spitting should be avoided because it can make it easier for the child to swallow the toothpaste.
A pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste should be given to the child of age 3 and above.
Children below the age of eight must always be supervised when brushing because the chances of them swallowing the toothpaste remain high.
If proper feeding habits are not followed even babies can develop tooth decay. It may be convenient to put the baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice but this is a harmful habit which is better avoided. The sugars in the milk and juice can eat away at the enamel of the baby’s teeth especially when the bottle remains in the mouth for hours. It can also create a condition known as bottle mouth. Children with severe cases can develop cavities and will need extraction of their front baby teeth even before the permanent teeth erupt.
The American Dental Association has recommended that children should be visiting a general dentistry clinic before the age of one. Visiting a pediatric dentist will be even better because they are trained and qualified to deal with the requirements of baby’s and toddlers. During the first visit, the dentist will explain the techniques of proper brushing and flossing and also do a modified exam while the baby sits in the parent’s lap.
These visits are especially important to identify any problems with the baby’s teeth at an early-stage and also help the baby to get accustomed to dental visits so they will be less fearful as they grow up. Pediatric dentists are trained to manage a wide range of issues associated with the dental health of kids. They also have information about when to refer the child to a specialist like an orthodontist or an oral surgeon to conduct a root canal if necessary.
Children displaying risks of cavities or other problems will receive topical fluoride treatments from the dentist even before all their teeth have erupted. The fluoride helps to harden the tooth enamel making it difficult for the common childhood oral disease known as dental caries or dental cavities.
The pediatric dentist will also teach the child proper oral care habits during the visits but most importantly he or she would be setting up the child for good oral care and overall health conditions throughout their lives from an early age.