As a parent, you want the best for your child, and that includes their oral health. Healthy teeth and gums are essential for your child’s growth, development, speech, nutrition, and self-esteem. However, many children suffer from dental problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease, and malocclusion, that can affect their quality of life and future dental health.
The good news is that most dental problems are preventable with proper care and attention. By following some simple steps, you can help your child develop good oral hygiene habits, protect their teeth from damage, and prevent dental diseases. In this blog post, we will share some tips and advice on how to care for your child’s teeth from infancy to adolescence. We will also answer some common questions that parents have about their child’s dental health.
How to Care for Your Baby’s Teeth
Your baby’s dental care should start before their first tooth erupts. Even though you can’t see them, your baby’s primary teeth (also known as baby teeth or milk teeth) are already forming in their gums. These teeth are important for your baby’s chewing, speaking, and smiling. They also act as placeholders for their permanent teeth, which will start to replace them around the age of 6.
To keep your baby’s teeth and gums healthy, you should:
● Clean their gums with a soft, damp cloth or a finger brush after each feeding. This will remove any milk or formula residue and prevent plaque buildup.
● Brush their teeth as soon as they appear, usually around 6 months of age. Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) to gently brush all surfaces of their teeth twice a day.
● Avoid putting them to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or any other sugary drink. This can cause a condition called baby bottle tooth decay, which is a severe form of tooth decay that affects the front teeth. If your baby needs a bottle to soothe them at night, fill it with plain water instead.
● Take them to the dentist by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth eruption, whichever comes first. This will help establish a dental home for your child and allow the dentist to check their oral health, provide preventive care, and offer guidance on how to care for their teeth.
How to Care for Your Toddler’s Teeth
Your toddler’s teeth are more prone to decay than your baby’s teeth, as they are exposed to more food and drinks, especially those that contain sugar and starch. Your toddler may also be more independent and resistant to having their teeth brushed. To help your toddler maintain good oral health, you should:
● Continue to brush their teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. You should supervise and assist your toddler until they can brush their teeth properly by themselves, usually around the age of 7 or 8.
● Teach them how to spit out the toothpaste after brushing, and avoid rinsing their mouth with water. This will allow the fluoride to stay on their teeth and protect them from decay.
● Start flossing their teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch each other. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth, where the toothbrush can’t reach. You should floss your toddler’s teeth until they can do it by themselves, usually around the age of 10.
● Limit their intake of sugary and starchy foods and drinks, such as candy, cookies, chips, soda, and juice. These foods and drinks can cause cavities by feeding the bacteria in the mouth that produce acid. If your toddler consumes these foods and drinks, offer them water afterward to rinse their mouth and neutralize the acid.
● Encourage them to drink from a cup instead of a bottle or a sippy cup. Drinking from a cup will help your toddler develop their oral muscles and prevent them from sipping on sugary drinks for a long time. You should wean your toddler off the bottle by the age of 1 and the sippy cup by the age of 2.