As a parent, it seems you worry about everything, but your child’s oral hygiene doesn’t have to be one of the things that keeps you up at night. We know it’s easy to fret, especially when nearly 20% of children between ages 5 and 11 have untreated cavities. However, when you take basic steps to protect your little one’s dental health, you can help lay the groundwork for a healthy smile well into adulthood.
Dr. Matt and the team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids provide tips and guidance for maintaining children’s oral hygiene. And, of course, scheduling biannual dental exams and cleanings will further help to ensure your child’s dental wellness.
Dental Care for Infants
Many parents don’t realize that infant oral hygiene actually begins before any teeth erupt. But milk and formulas contain sugars, a leading culprit in the development of cavities. To protect those developing teeth, be sure to wipe your baby’s gums with a soft cloth after nursing or feeding. After your baby is finished, don’t let her sleep with the bottle in her mouth or keep sucking on it while it is empty. Long-term exposure to the sugars in the formula could increase the risk of dental decay.
Oral Hygiene for Older Babies and Toddlers
Once your baby starts teething, you should start brushing. Use a toothbrush with very soft bristles and special non-fluoridated toothpaste. A dollop the size of a pea is enough. As soon as your little one has two or more teeth that touch, it’s time to start flossing. You should also schedule your baby’s first dental visit when his teeth start to come in or by his first birthday, whichever comes first.
By the time your child is two, you can begin using fluoride toothpaste. At this point, it is good for children to start learning to brush themselves, but you should continue to monitor them until you know they are capable of doing it completely on their own. Many children need adult supervision until they are school aged.
Tips for School Aged Children and Teens
Older kids are likely brushing and flossing on their own, but it is good to check in with them to make sure they are maintaining proper dental care. In addition, make sure that your kitchen is stocked with healthy foods that will promote good oral (and physical) health. Limit sugar consumption and have kids fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Nuts, lean proteins, and calcium-rich cheese and yogurt also make great snacks. (Just make sure you are buying low or sugar-free yogurts.) Whatever your kids are noshing on, it should be accompanied by a glass of water! This will help to wash away sugars and bits of food left on teeth.
Schedule an Oral Hygiene Visit with a Pediatric Dentist
Of course, whatever the age of your child, regular trips to the dentist are an essential part of good oral hygiene. Dr. Matt specializes in pediatric dentistry, and his advanced training gives him a detailed knowledge of the unique needs of children. Plus, the upbeat cheerful demeanor of our team means that every office visit is a reason to smile!
To schedule an appointment for your little one at our Overland Park, KS, office, give us a call at (913) 685-9990 or send us a message online.