You wouldn’t let your young child use a sharp knife or play near a busy road. After all, it’s your most basic instinct to protect him from every type of potential harm. This includes the potential harm of cavities and poor oral health as well!
Your child’s baby teeth are just as important as his future permanent teeth. Use these five tips to protect your young child’s teeth and prevent the pain and discomfort of dental problems in the future.
Monitor Brushing Until Age 6 (or Longer!)
Like riding a bike or reading a book, brushing takes practice. Your child won’t automatically know how to effectively brush his teeth, so it’s critical that you supervise the brushing process until at least age 6.
Though the role you play in your child’s brushing habits will decrease over time, it’s never too early to begin:
Even before your baby has teeth, use a baby toothbrush to gently brush his gums
As soon as teeth appear, brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day
By age two, include use of a fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities and protect teeth from decay
As your child grows, keep him engaged in brushing with musical toothbrushes, reward charts, and steady routines
And don’t forget about flossing! This often overlooked component of oral health is essential to remove plaque from between the teeth. Aim to help your child floss once a day. Once the routine is established, he won’t think twice about it.
Make Beverage Rules
Oral hygiene isn’t just about brushing and flossing; it’s also about the foods and drinks that coat your child’s teeth throughout the day and night.
Consider these quick tips to make sure beverages don’t compromise your child’s dental health:
Never put your child down to sleep with a bottle of juice, formula, or milk
Limit juice to mealtimes so that food and saliva can wash it away
Stick to water in between meals
Say no to soda, period
Don’t be fooled by “healthy” juices like apple juice and orange juice. While they do have some nutritional value, they’re inevitably loaded with sugar that eats away at healthy tooth enamel and makes your child more vulnerable to cavities. Water is always the very best choice since it clears the mouth of sugar, keeps your child hydrated, and improves body functions.
Don’t Overdo It With Sweets
Sweets can be just as dangerous as juice and soda. Unfortunately, it’s usually easier for kids to rummage through the pantry for junk food than to find a healthier option in the fridge. The more your young child snacks on sweets, the more his teeth are exposed to harmful sugar and bacteria.
This is easy to solve by swapping sweets and junk food for nutritious smile-friendly choices. Consider these easy options that can always sit within reach inside the fridge:
Crunchy foods like apples, carrots, cucumbers, and celery. These stimulate the production of saliva to neutralize bacteria and wash away sugar and acid.
Vitamin-rich foods like oranges, broccoli, strawberries, fish, and eggs
Dairy options like yogurt, cheese, and milk contain high levels of calcium to strengthen enamel
Lean meats are high in phosphorus, which helps calcium build and protect enamel
These healthy foods aren’t difficult to make a regular part of your child’s diet. It can be as easy as offering string cheese and apples with peanut butter as an afternoon snack.
Ask For Dental Sealants
A dental sealant is one of the easiest and most effective measures in preventative dentistry, especially for children!
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied to the back molars. Since most food is chewed with the back molars, sealants cover those chewing surfaces and make it difficult for sugar, bacteria, and small food pieces to sneak into the tiny cracks and crevices of the molars. You can think of sealants like tight, durable raincoats that keep the teeth protected from oral debris.
Believe it or not, this simple layer of dental plastic is proven to reduce the risk of decay up to 80% in back molars. Since the dental sealant application process is quick, simple, and virtually painless, sealants are one of the best investments you can make in your child’s oral health.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
Twice a year, every year! Your child should begin visiting the dentist by the age of 1 and continue every six months. Visiting the dentist is the only way to routinely assess your child’s dental health, identify problems, thoroughly clean the teeth, and prevent future issues.
By setting these good examples for your toddler and establishing a clear and consistent brushing and flossing routine every morning and night, you will help your child avoid cavities and enjoy all that life has to offer with a full and healthy set of teeth. Even in moments when it seems difficult, remember that your efforts can help to prevent your child from experiencing the pain, suffering, and embarrassment caused by a damaged mouth.
Make an appointment with the team at All Smiles Children’s Dentistry now for your child’s next dental checkup. Our kind, compassionate team makes it a priority to help every child feel comfortable and safe in the dentist’s chair. Call (760) 734-4400 to schedule an appointment now.