As parents, we can encounter challenges and questions in terms of how much dental care our children need. We know that we need to help our children prevent cavities and have healthier teeth. However, we do not always know the right and best way to achieve just that. So, here are some tips that we have compiled to help you and your children keep their pearly whites healthy and strong.
The When’s and How’s
1. Just before your child begins teething, use a clean, damp washcloth and regularly wipe your child’s gums to clear away any harmful build-up of bacteria in the mouth.
2. When your child’s first baby tooth erupts, start to clean it by brushing with an infant toothbrush and water.
3. When your baby already has two or more baby teeth that are touching, you can begin flossing between them to remove any food debris surrounding the teeth and on the gums.
4. When your child reaches the age of 2, teach him or her to spit while brushing to avoid your child from swallowing some toothpaste.
5. Younger children (around 3 to 8 years old) should put only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing.
6. Brush two (2) times a day, in the morning and at bedtime, for two full minutes each, using a child-friendly fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities.
7. Make sure you supervise your kids while they are brushing so that you know if they are cleaning their teeth properly.
8. If your child is still young, help your child brush his or her teeth. Do this for two minutes every time.
9. Do the ‘floss habit’ every day. Flossing helps prevent cavities from forming between teeth. Just like with brushing, help your child clean between their teeth until they can do it well on their own.
10. Teach your child the proper brushing technique early on to help encourage them to develop good oral health habits. Just start with simple steps to get your child off to a good start in his or her daily dental cleaning.
11. Make sure your child brushes (and flosses) behind front teeth, both top, and bottom. These areas are prone to tartar and plaque buildup, hence the special attention it requires.
On Diet and Food Intake
12. We strongly recommend that you watch your child’s diet. What you feed your child, what he or she eats and drinks can cause harm to his or her developing teeth.
13. Stay away from sugars as much as possible. Limit the sugary treats and sticky goodies like candies and cakes. Sugars and starches produce harmful acids that make the tooth enamel weak and prone to cavities.
14. If you cannot resist, you may also opt to save treats like candy, cookies, and pies for after mealtime. This is when the amount of saliva produced in the mouth is greater and will better help protect your child’s teeth.
15. Encourage children to drink more water to help prevent tooth decay. Drink water after every meal and snacks.
In Partnering with your Child’s Dentist
16. Regularly visit your child’s dentist. As soon as you see your baby’s first tooth appears (which is usually around his or her 1st birthday), visit a pediatric dentist for a checkup. Your child’s dentist will examine your child’s oral development, when to expect the next baby teeth to erupt, and give you more information on how to take good care of your child’s teeth.
17. Make sure your child undergoes a dental exam before they start school as some schools require this as well.
18. Ask your child’s dentist about dental sealants. A sealant is a protective coating that covers your child’s teeth. A dental sealant is a useful treatment to protect against cavities on the biting surfaces of the teeth. If the pediatric dentist thinks that your child may be at high risk for cavities, sealants may be applied to your child’s back teeth.
19. Know more about fluoride treatment. While fluoride is found in many public water sources and many toothpaste brands, your child’s dentist may also recommend the application of fluoride varnish to provide extra cavity protection.
And lastly, tip number 20: Get your child excited and enthusiastic about daily dental hygiene. Be creative. Play games. Tell stories. Whatever you do, just try to make it a fun, family time that your child will look forward to every time.
Small Smiles: What You Need to Know About Baby Teeth, MouthHealthy.org https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/childrens-dental-health
Kids Oral Care – Dental Hygiene Tips for Kids, OralB.com https://oralb.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/kids/kids-oral-care-dental-hygiene-tips
Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy, KidsHealth.org https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/healthy.html
8 Ways to Protect Your Child’s Teeth, WebMD https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-health-for-kids#1