Starting a child’s dental health education off on the right path is so very important! Many children fear the dentist due to past unhappy experiences. Most kids don’t brush long enough or use proper technique – and flossing can be a struggle! We work with the child and the parent together as a team to achieve dental health education at an early age. Most kids should start regular cleanings and exams as early as 2 -3 years old; each child’s tolerance is different. Early dental care is so important for so many reasons:
- Kids need strong healthy teeth to chew, speak and smile!
- Healthy teeth also helps to give kids faces shape and keep spacing in the jaw for their adult teeth
- Early prevention of some serious dental conditions such as decay
Most kids teeth begin to come in at about 6 months old and will be lost usually one at a time. Most kids have all twenty primary (baby) teeth by the time they’re 3 years old and have all permanent teeth by the time they are 12 to 14. And, most teens develop “wisdom teeth” or third molars – most of which will need to be extracted due to spacing problems.
Some important tips for keeping kid’s teeth healthy:
- Never let your baby fall asleep with a bottle of juice or other sugary liquids, even milk, since it can easily cause decay. Plain water or a clean pacifier is recommended to help soothe a baby to sleep
- Really try and limit the sugary liquids (even watered-down juice) in sippy cups when your baby gets older – any sugary liquids can damage teeth
- Try to soothe a teething baby by rubbing a clean finger or a wet gauze pad gently over the baby’s gums – never introduce local anesthetics (creams or gels) – these can cause serious reactions in small children
- For kids under 3 years old, use no more than a smear or grain-of-rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. For kids three to six years old, use only a rice-sized or pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste – and make sure all kids spit the excess.
- 2 minutes, 2 times a day – Parents: this is SO important, and watch that they reach all of the surfaces of all of their teeth!
- Flossing daily is as important as brushing – start good habits early!!
- Limit sipping and snacking as much as possible between meals – bacteria forms after any food or liquid and can cause decay
- Choose healthy snacks and drinks like fruit & veggies and milk & water – sugary drinks (especially juice) and processed foods are full of sugar that can cause decay and are just not healthy for anyone.
- Try and break the sucking habit – either by thumbs or pacifiers. Self-soothing is important but after the age of two, too much sucking on a pacifier or a thumb can cause problems with tooth alignment and proper mouth growth.
- A mouthguard is essential if your child plays contact sports such as football, soccer, hockey and lacrosse -they can prevent mouth & teeth injuries in any sport!
- If your baby’s tooth is accidentally knocked out, it is important for us to examine it – even though a baby tooth is eventually shed, an accident could cause damage to the tooth socket. And please, never try to reinsert the tooth – just bring it in to us.
- Unlike a baby tooth, if your child should lose a permanent tooth, you should try and put the tooth back into the socket. Make sure that it is clean – rinse the root briefly in water (don’t scrub it) but try not to touch the root. Hold by the crown firmly and gently try to reinsert into the tooth socket. If it doesn’t easily go back in the socket, put the tooth in a clean container with milk or saliva or saline – water is there if there is nothing else available. Call us and we will see your child immediately!
- Sealants are an important and necessary tool to prevent tooth decay. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces of teeth and help prevent bacteria-based plaque from forming on the biting surface of the tooth. Sealants can last several years but good home care is still necessary and important for the tooth areas not covered by sealants. Some adults can benefit also from sealants!