Boosting your child's oral health and development should start early—even before their first tooth comes in! Getting off to the right start will pay dividends well into their adult years.
Here are 5 things to do, then, to help your child develop great oral health during their earliest years.
Begin oral hygiene early. To lower your child's risk of tooth decay, begin wiping out their mouth with a clean cloth after nursing to limit bacteria. When teeth do come in, gently brush them with just a dab of toothpaste, which you can gradually increase to a pea-size when they get older. Later, add flossing as well as training them to brush and floss for themselves.
Avoid too much sugar. Carbohydrates like refined sugar feed bacteria that cause tooth decay. To reduce these bacteria, moderate your child's sugar consumption by limiting sweets to meal times and cutting back on sodas, juices, and other types of sweetened drinks. Avoid bedtime bottles filled with these types of beverages including breast milk or formula.
Visit the dentist by age 1. Starting dental visits on or before your child's first birthday will help you stay one step ahead of any developing dental problems. Furthermore, children who get in the routine early for regular dental visits have a better time adjusting to them, and they're less likely to develop long-term anxiety over seeing the dentist.
Take advantage of fluoride. Tiny amounts of fluoride ingestion can give your child an edge over tooth decay. To take advantage of fluoride, use fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water, if your utility adds it. Your dentist can also directly apply fluoride to children's teeth high risk for decay. Be careful, though, because too much fluoride can cause staining. Talk with your dentist, then, about staying within fluoride limits.
Set the example. Children often follow their parents' lead—if you take your own dental care seriously, they will too. Make daily hygiene a family affair by brushing and flossing together. Let them also see that going to the dentist is a snap. By staying calm and relaxed yourself, they'll be less likely to be nervous about dental care.
If you would like more information on dental care for children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”