Good dental habits play an important part in our overall health throughout our lifetimes and there’s no better time to get started than when your children are young. Here are some things to consider to help with your child’s dental hygiene.
Your dentist is your friend. The American Dental Association suggests scheduling your child’s first visit within six months of his or her first tooth’s arrival, or no later than the first birthday. This first trip will allow your dentist to examine your child’s jaw and teeth development, look for early signs of cavities and tooth decay, and to set the tone for positive visits in the future. Consider reading books or watching videos about trips to the dentist with your child, in order to make this first visit worth looking forward to.
Keep ’em clean. As soon as your child’s baby teeth begin to break through, make twice daily brushing a part of your routine. Use a child’s toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. ADA guidelines call for a rice kernel-sized amount for children under 3, and a pea-size amount for 3-to-6 year olds. Cavities can start with children as soon as their teeth are visible, so teeth brushing is essential.
Flouride flourishes. In many communities, fluoride — a natural occurring mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel — is added to tap water. Most toothpastes and mouth washes have fluoride as well. It’s a good idea to make sure your child is exposed to fluoride on a daily basis, to decrease the likelihood of tooth decay.
Self-service. When is it appropriate to allow children to brush their own teeth? Many pediatricians believe that when children are able to tie their own shows, they also will have the motor skills and maturity to begin teeth brushing. As an adult, monitor closely at the outset, to make sure the proper amount of toothpaste is being used, that the brushing covers every portion of the mouth, and that your child is doing so twice a day.
This infographic from the ADA provides 5 ways to prevent tooth decay in children.