Parenthood can be an incredibly complicated, but boundlessly rewarding, process as you learn to care for your growing child. From your baby’s first doctor’s visit to his or her very first day of school, we know life as a parent is hectic. That’s why we’re sharing tips to care for your child’s oral health from infancy and beyond. These tips will take you through all stages to help you properly care for incoming teeth and teething, all the way to adult teeth to give your loved ones a happy, healthy smile.
Baby Teeth Care
Even though baby teeth will only be around for a short while, it’s important to start caring for your child’s oral health as soon as possible. Consult your pediatrician and primary care dentist for complete care practices and tips to promote oral health for incoming teeth, and throughout your child’s lifetime.
Start with gum care
Before your child’s first teeth start popping through the gums, you can clean and care for your infant’s oral health. Wrap a soft, warm washcloth or piece of gauze around your finger and wipe your baby’s gums after each feeding and before bed to wash out bacteria and excess food.
Take care as soon as they show
As soon as teeth begin to show through the gums, you can start using a toothbrush. Use a toothbrush with a large handle, soft bristles, and a small brush head. At first, simply wet the toothbrush and brush gently. As teeth begin to emerge, use a rice-sized portion of toothpaste and brush lightly around the front and back. You can increase toothpaste to the standard pea-sized portion when your child is 3 years old.
Consistent dentist visits
The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that your child have his or her first dental visit at 1 year old. Your dentist can give you advice about everything from teething to brushing, and from thumbsucking to optimal oral care, so it’s best to schedule subsequent dental exams on an annual basis.
Incoming Adult Teeth
After teething and 2-year molars come in, your child will eventually lose all 20 baby teeth, and develop permanent teeth between 6 and 12 years old. The incisors, or “front teeth,” will likely come first on the top and bottom at around 6 to 7 years old. Then come the 6-year molars, the lateral incisors, and the rest are soon to follow. By age 13, after the 12-year molars grow in, your child will be sporting a mouthful of permanent teeth.
Mindful eating habits
"Consult your pediatrician and primary care dentist for complete care practices and tips to promote oral health for incoming teeth, and throughout your child’s lifetime."
It’s common knowledge that you can prevent cavities at the onset by mitigating sugar intake from foods like candy, fruit juices, soda, and other sugary drinks and snacks. Bacteria feed on the sugar and produce acid that decays teeth and gums. If your child does indulge in sweets, be sure they’re brushing consistently, and drinking plenty of water to rinse and prevent dry mouth. If your child chews gum, it’s best to choose sugar-free varieties, which prevent cavities.
As a parent, be mindful of your child’s dietary preferences during the 6-year molar growth period. They’ll likely prefer softer foods or experience appetite shifts due to tenderness. You can accommodate your child with healthy, soft fruits, smoothies, soups, and steamed veggies.
Practice proper oral care
When your child practices proper tooth care, they’ll increase the chances that their permanent teeth will last them a lifetime. Dentists recommend brushing and flossing after every meal, or three times per day. You’ll likely need to help your child brush and floss until he or she is a little older, but we recommend letting them do it themselves first. Use child-size flossers with handles to teach proper flossing techniques, and a toothbrush that’s designed specifically for kids. Parents should take a final pass over to ensure the child’s teeth are adequately clean, while they’re getting practice and independence for maintaining good oral health habits.
Bringing your child to the dentist for regular exams, cleanings, and x-rays are critical steps in keeping oral health in peak condition. For affordable dental care discounts on regular maintenance and cleanings as well as more costly dental procedures, dental discount cards help save 20 to 50 percent off the retail cost of care. To learn more, contact us today and we can help you find a local, affordable dental professional for the whole family.