According to the Center for Disease Control, tooth decay is the most common ailment for children. In fact, over 40% of children have developed cavities by the age of 5. Though the rate of cavities in older children has been slowly declining, the rise in cavities among kids under 5 is increasing. Many parents don’t understand the importance of maintaining their child’s baby teeth until it’s too late. To educate parents at Kids Healthy Teeth about proper dental hygiene and preventative care for children, here are six essential tips to get your child started on the right path:
- Toothpaste isn’t necessary before teeth emerge, but cleaning the gums with a soft, wet washcloth twice a day can help keep bacteria at bay for healthy gums.
- Incorporate oral care into your child’s daily routine early on. Getting into the habit early will increase the likelihood that you (and eventually your child) will keep up this healthy practice once teeth appear.
- When the first teeth start to show up (usually around 6 months, but this can vary greatly from child to child), you can start using a small toothbrush for babies. These brushes have smaller heads, so they can fit into smaller mouths. They also have very soft bristles to avoid damaging sensitive, developing gums. You can also use a finger toothbrush, which is very soft and easy to control.
- Only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste until the pediatric dentist instructs you to use more. Young children may have trouble not swallowing toothpaste, so minimize the amount of toothpaste used. Think about using fluoride free toothpaste until your child has learned not to swallow when brushing as too much ingested fluoride could lead to fluorosis.
- Don’t let your child mindlessly suck on bottles, sippy cups, or even pacifiers. This can lead to an abnormally developed palate and teeth. Drinking from a bottle before or during sleep can also lead to cavities from the sugars in the liquid.
- The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends parents take their child to the pediatric dentist by the age of 1 or when your child’s first teeth have sprouted. The pediatric dentist specializes in children’s teeth and they can spot and prevent developmental problems early on.
Baby teeth are important to maintain because they’re essential for children to eat, speak, and smile. They also stimulate bone growth and hold space for permanent teeth. Make sure to keep up with your child’s dental health by making regular visits to the pediatric dentist!