Few things are as wonderful as a child’s smile but keeping that smile healthy takes some effort. While their first set of teeth do fall out, not learning to brush or floss now leads to bad habits later. Tooth decay and infections can evolve into much more harmful diseases, but there are things you can do to get kids started on a path to good oral health.
Some Toothy Truths
- Tooth decay, or cavities, is one of the most chronic childhood conditions in the United States.
- It can cause extreme pain or even illness that could make it hard to eat, speak, and learn.
- Around one in five children aged 5 to 11 has at least one untreated cavity.
- Most bottled waters don’t contain fluoride, yet 69% of Americans get fluoride through local drinking water.
Baby Teeth Tips
Keep a close eye on your baby’s teeth as soon as they come in. Talk to a dentist if you notice differences in color on the teeth, or stains or spots. Use a baby-specific toothbrush or washcloth to clean a baby’s teeth. Don’t start using toothpaste until they turn 2 years old.
- Don’t leave a bottle with the baby at night or during naptime.
- Never coat pacifiers with jelly, honey, or other sugary foods.
- Avoid sugary drinks and juices and give your baby water instead. It’s a good habit and will help avoid childhood obesity.
- Teach your child how to drink from an open cup near their first birthday.
- Make sure they’ve seen a dentist between the appearance of their first tooth and before their first birthday.
Tooth Care as Children Grow
Usually, kids can’t wait for you to treat them like adults. Maybe they should start with their adult teeth. Help them create good oral hygiene routines for when those adult teeth start coming in.
Use fluoride toothpaste — This is the best way to combat tooth decay. Studies have shown its 33% more effective than non-fluoride toothpaste. It is recommended everyone brush for two minutes, moving to different parts of the mouth. Parents and guardians should supervise children’s brushing habits until they’re old enough to brush solo.
Be consistent — It’s best for kids to brush after every meal to get rid of bacteria that could harm teeth. They should at least brush each morning before school and each night before bed.
Floss — Flossing each night cleans out those areas between teeth that are hard to get to. By starting at the gum line, they also remove plaque. Everyone should floss.
See your dentist — The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommend that children have two checkups per year. Schedule their next visit if you can’t remember the last time they went.
No need for whitening toothpaste — It sounds great, but most active whitening toothpastes have chemicals that can wear down the protective out layer on teeth. Just stick with fluoride toothpaste.
Pay attention — If your child says their teeth hurt, get it checked out. It could be an infection that can spread from the tooth to other parts of the mouth or head.
Give Us a Smile
Following these steps will get your kids on the path to having a healthy smile and those are great to show off.
If you can’t remember the last time your kids went to the dentist, schedule an appointment at AltaMed. Locations are inside the same places where you get medical care, women’s health services, and the other care your family need to grow healthy. Schedule an appointment at (888) 499-9303.