Dental Care for Kids: Oral Care Guide for Parents
The best approach to cavities is prevention.
At least 16.9% of American children between the ages of five and 19 have untreated cavities. If an average school classroom size is 30 students, that means that five kids are suffering from a cavity.
When left untreated, cavities can transform into a larger dental issue. Sometimes, cavities can become extremely painful, making it hard for kids to play, speak, and even learn.
So, how can you protect your child from the pain of a cavity or further oral health issues?
The key is prevention. With the right information and care, you can protect your child’s oral health. Read on to learn about dental care for kids and what you can do to keep your child healthy at every age.
Brush Twice a Day
Just like adults, children need to brush their teeth twice a day. Regular brushing is the best way to prevent cavities and gum irritation.
Make sure your kids are brushing their teeth for at least two minutes. This applies to adults too! This is the amount of time it takes to remove plaque from your teeth and gums. Flossing is also a big part of a good oral care routine. It helps clear away food and bacteria under the gums and between the teeth. As soon as your child has teeth that touch, you can start using floss.
Consider Fluoride Treatments and Sealants
Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps strengthen enamel (the hard outer layer on your teeth) and prevent cavities. You can find it in most types of toothpaste. Plus, many U.S. towns and cities add fluoride to their tap water.
You can also opt for fluoride treatments from the dentist for even better cavity prevention. These may come in the form of a gel tray, foam, or varnish.
Another effective way to prevent cavities is to get sealants. A sealant is a thin plastic-like coating that a dentist applies to the crevices in your child’s molars. The sealant blocks bacteria and food from getting stuck there and causing decay.
Sealants cut your child’s risk for cavities by 80%. In fact, children without sealants are three times more likely to get cavities than kids without them.
Using fluoride treatments and sealants as well as fluoride-treated tap water and toothpaste will dramatically reduce your child’s risk for cavities.
See the Dentist Regularly
At every age, it’s important to take your child to regular dental checkups. Regular cleanings and checkups can prevent small issues from becoming major dental problems.
Children’s dentists know how to look for developmental or structural issues with your child’s teeth and jaw. They’ll look for issues with the bite pattern, teeth alignment, jaw growth and structure, and check for cavities.
Routine dental appointments can make your child feel more comfortable at the dentist’s office. If you ever need emergency dental care for your kids, your child won’t feel as nervous if they’re used to visiting the dentist.
Dental Care for Infants
When you’re caring for an infant, dental care is probably the last thing on your mind. Feeding, changing diapers, and playing takes up most of your time. Besides, babies don’t even have teeth yet.
But, you can protect your baby’s mouth and future teeth. Use a clean cloth to wipe their gums once in the morning and once at night. This keeps sugar and bacteria from hanging around and causing irritation.
When the first tooth comes in, book your baby’s first dentist appointment. The first tooth usually appears between four and seven months, but it can take longer than that. Either way, your baby should see a dentist at or before their first birthday.
You can also use a soft infant toothbrush and some water to clean your baby’s teeth. Ask your dentist when you should add fluoride toothpaste to the routine.
Dental Care for Kids
In childhood, it’s really important to establish a dental hygiene routine. Be sure to supervise your child’s brushing habits to make sure they’re cleaning each tooth. They’ll carry the habits they learn into adolescence.
Try turning it into a game or playing music to make it more fun. You can also brush your teeth alongside your child to model good brushing behavior. Plus, it can be a fun morning and evening ritual.
If your child is less than three years old, use a rice-grain sized amount of kid’s toothpaste. Ask your dentist for recommendations on a toothpaste that best fits your child. You don’t want to use too much fluoridated toothpaste because over mineralization of the teeth can leave white marks on the tooth’s surface. After age three, you can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Dental Care for Teens
When your child is a teenager, you need to make sure that they continue the hygiene practices they learned as a kid. Plus, they still need to see a dentist twice a year.
By the time your child is a teenager, they will have all or most of their adult teeth. Good hygiene is especially important at this age since their teeth are permanent. Unlike baby teeth, there’s no backup for adult teeth.
Contact sports can also pose a risk to your teenager’s teeth. If your kid plays football, baseball, or softball, make sure they wear their mouthguard.
As your teen’s mouth grows, their teeth can start to shift at this age. Your dentist will give you advice on whether or not your child needs braces or orthodontic care. Wisdom teeth can also pose an issue at this age, but your dentist can monitor this as well.
Book Your Child’s Next Dentist Appointment Today
In addition to good hygiene and a healthy diet, keeping regular dentist appointments is the best way to make sure your child’s dental health is on track. But, visiting the dentist can be a stressful experience for kids.
That’s why it’s so important to choose the right pediatric dental group that can provide the best dental care for your kids. If you want to take your child to the best dentist in Rochester, NY, you can’t go wrong with Dr. Judith Shea. She’s a board-certified pediatric dentist.
Since Dr. Shea specializes in dental care for kids, both you and your child can rest easy. Your kid will have a happy, stress-free appointment, and you’ll feel relieved knowing you’re protecting your child’s oral health.
To book an appointment or schedule a visit to our office, contact us today.