Dental Hygiene & The Stages of Childhood
Your child’s health is of utmost importance to you. From the bottom of their tippy-toes up to the precious hairs on the top of their head, each part of their body contributes to their overall well-being, and maintaining good oral health is no exception. You know probably know some ways to prevent cavities, but it is sometimes hard to gauge how much dental care your little one needs: when to start and when to let them take over.
Taking care of your infant’s gums is key to good oral hygiene before their first tooth erupts. Dental care for infants is relatively simple: since harmful bacteria can collect on your baby’s gums, running a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to clear it away is sufficient.
Six Months to Three Years Old
Your child’s first baby teeth will usually begin to emerge around six months of age and the last baby teeth break through around age three. These teeth are very important as they are used for eating, speaking, smiling, and keeping space in the jaws for permanent teeth.
Take care of baby teeth by brushing them for at least two minutes, twice a day with an appropriately sized soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny smear of toothpaste. Make toothbrush and toothpaste selection a fun activity by allowing them to choose a color, character, or flavor. When your child’s teeth start to touch, it is time to start flossing in order to remove food particles and bacteria that can cause cavities.
Three Years to Eight Years Old
Typically, you will need to either help or at least supervise your child’s brushing and flossing until they are seven or eight years old. Usually, this is when they can start using a larger, soft-bristled toothbrush as some of their permanent teeth are beginning to grow in.
Before you hand the responsibility of their dental hygiene over, make sure that they are brushing every surface of their teeth for at least two minutes at least twice daily.
When to Visit a Dentist
The ADA recommends that a child should visit a dentist six months after your baby’s first tooth comes into the mouth, but no later than their first birthday. This way, the dentist can teach you how to properly brush your baby’s teeth, perform an exam and educate on the proper oral health habits to establish at home. Getting children into the dentist early will help in alleviating fears as they grow older. Consider a pediatric dentist, like the experts at APDO who have experience with babies and toddlers.
Tips to Maintain Your Child’s Dental Health from the ADA
- Brush in the morning and at night with fluoride toothpaste – For babies and toddlers use an amount equal to the size of a grain of rice and for children 3 and up, use a pea-sized amount
- Clean between teeth once you see two teeth touch – Use floss and floss picks to remove food particles from between the teeth and under the gums and to prevent cavities
- Make regular visits to your child’s dentist – Your dentist can tell you if your child has plaque or cavities, when to expect new teeth, and how to properly brush and floss
- Limit sugary or acidic foods – Sugar and acid can damage the enamel and make your child’s teeth more prone to cavities
- Ask your dentist about sealants – This is a special coating placed in the pits of the molars that protects against cavities
- Ask your dentist about fluoride treatments – There are fluoride treatments such as varnishes and rinses that can help prevent cavities
Contact Your Scottsdale Pediatric Dentist & Orthodontist
At Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, your child is our number one priority. Please contact us with any questions about how to take care of your child’s oral health or if you live in the North Phoenix or Scottsdale area, schedule an appointment for your child today!