February is Children’s Dental Health Month, so what a perfect time to review the best way to care for your child’s teeth! Make sure you bring your little one in by 12 months of age, if you also want to bring them in when the first tooth erupts, that is great too. This early first visit is important for several reasons. First, any dental problems that may be developing can be detected early, and this may reduce the need for costly, extensive care in the future. In addition, the first dental visit is a great time to talk about behaviors that can affect the dental health of your child.
As your child grows, it is important that they come to the clinic every six months to repeat this process. Small procedures such as a toothbrush cleaning, and later a rubber cup cleaning, as well as dental radiographs will be added at the subsequent appointments. The developing dentition will be monitored and your child will be assessed for orthodontic care. Sealants are placed on first and second molars around the age of six and 12 to prevent dental decay. Some tips for lasting dental health:
- Brush at least twice a day
- The ADA recommends that for children younger than three years, begin brushing with a “smear” of fluoridated tooth paste no bigger than a grain rice
- For children between the ages of 3 and 6, use a pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste
- Parents or caregivers should be actively involved in this process, remember that until your child can tie their own shoes, they do not have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth.
- Any teeth that touch should be flossed
- A diet that is good for your body will be good for your teeth
- Avoid sugary drinks and chewy, sticky foods.
- In the teenage years it is important to help your child maintain a healthy diet also as during the school years candy, soda are more readily available outside the home.
- Do not let your child get an intraoral piercing as this can be responsible for chipped teeth, soft tissue trauma and occasional tooth loss
Try to have patience and keep at it, some children have an easier time than others but patience and persistence will pay off.