Tooth Decay Prevention for Kids Starts When They’re Babies
Preventing Kids Tooth Decay
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, about 40 percent of children have tooth decay by age 5.
Improper or infrequent brushing and flossing are the main causes. Proper oral care can prevent children’s tooth decay, and you can start now to teach your child good habits.
Here are a few tips to help you protect your child’s teeth, and prevent tooth decay.
3 Phases of Preventing Children’s Tooth Decay
Infant Oral Care
A baby’s teeth will start popping through their gums around six months old. But don’t wait until you see teeth to start caring for their mouth.
You can wipe a soft, moist cloth over your child’s gums once a day. That practice removes bacteria and prepares them for the toothbrush that will soon be part of their self-care routine.
After the first teeth emerge, buy a baby toothbrush. It will have a small head and soft bristles that remove bacteria without harming the gums.
Use only a small amount of toothpaste – about the size of a grain of rice – and gently scrub the teeth and tongue.
If you’ve been washing off their gums regularly, they should be receptive to the toothbrush. If they fight you, brush when they’re well rested and make it a normal and expected part of your daily routine.
Generally speaking, your child’s first dental visit should occur when your baby turns one year old.
This first appointment will allow your dentist to look in their mouth, answer your oral health care questions and schedule the next appointment.
Unless your baby’s mouth is full of teeth, he or she will probably return to the dentist near their second birthday.
Toddler Oral Care
Most of your child’s teeth should be visible now that they’re a toddler, so keep brushing twice a day.
Also, continue using a tiny amount of paste. Fluoride paste includes the mineral that prevents tooth decay as it strengthens enamel and fights bacteria.
Kidshealth.org recommends that you only use fluoride toothpaste if your local water supply doesn’t contain between 0.7 and 1.2 parts per million and your dentist recommends it.
When your child is a toddler, enlist their participation in preventing tooth decay. Begin teaching your toddler to brush on their own, let them take the first turn brushing their teeth and then follow up to make sure they reach every tooth.
At this point, you’ll also want to introduce flossing since your toddler’s teeth are probably touching by now.
Use a brightly colored floss pick or wrap regular floss in a C shape, being sure to wrap the floss around each tooth.
By including this oral care activity in your everyday routine, it will be a habit when your child in preschool and is able to maneuver the floss on their own.
Preschool Oral Care
Now that your child’s older, they can brush by themselves.
To make brushing fun, try flavored toothpaste, a spin brush that’s cool to operate and stimulates the gums or a manual brush that’s decorated with a favorite movie or cartoon character.
Elementary Oral Care
By kindergarten, oral care should be a habit. Moving forward, their daily dental health routine will be a critical part of preventing tooth decay – as a child & adult.
Your child should be able to apply toothpaste, brush properly and floss. And they should also be seeing the dentist every six months by this point.
Since you started your child with good oral care habits when they just a baby, you’ve equipped them to care properly for their own pearly whites.
They’re now on their way to a lifetime of healthy smiles and, hopefully, no tooth decay.
Friendly Wayne NJ Dentistry for Kids: Frank V. Maldonado, D.D.S.
Dr. Frank Maldonado provides all phases general & family dentistry with expertise treating patients from 1 to 100+! We promise to provide your children with the highest level of comfort and care possible.
Schedule your child’s appointment today by calling us at (973) 694-8625.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on DentalPatientNews.com and has been republished here with permission. It has since been updated for accuracy & comprehensiveness.
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