Dental Hygiene for babies and toddlers is very important
With a new baby in your home, you likely have many questions regarding how to best take care of your child’s mouth and future teeth. Here are a couple of guidelines to help you.
The most common question we hear at The Kids Dentist is “when should a child have their first dental visit?” The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you establish a relationship with a dentist around a child’s first birthday (or 6 months after the first tooth erupts). The earlier an infant visits the dentist, the earlier we can help you avoid problems and properly take care of their mouths and teeth. At their first visit, we will help advise you on what to expect, check for any abnormalities or early problems, do a full examination and talk about issues that will affect your child’s oral health. So remember, make sure and schedule an initial visit with The Kids Dentist by age one.
Set a Good Example!
Children love to mimic the behavior of their parents. Many of the skills they develop are from watching you. Therefore, every time you brush and floss your own teeth, make sure your child is watching. They will soon want to “brush” with you. Most children do not have the manual dexterity to effectively brush their own teeth until age 7, so you can let your child brush but then you should go back over it for them. Have fun with them while you brush their teeth to keep them engaged. Try coming up with a song to sing while you brush. The goal is to establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime while they are young.
Oral Hygiene For Infants and Toddlers
As soon as the first tooth erupts, it’s time to start brushing. Proper cleaning of baby teeth means that an adult is brushing every tooth surface with a soft toothbrush and a tiny smear of fluoridated toothpaste. This should happen twice a day and for two minutes each time. Once toddlers become more independently interested in brushing their own teeth, it is still very important that an adult brushes their teeth for them as well, whether before or after the child attempts it. Young children lack the coordination and attention span to clean their own teeth well enough to remove plaque.
It can be a struggle to get some kids to cooperate with tooth brushing at home. Yet, it is critically important that daily plaque removal happens or else decay can quickly begin. Remember that a tooth is at risk of a cavity as soon as it erupts. Fight the good fight and use an extra adult or a towel to swaddle the child in order to clean those baby pearly whites.
Another way to keep teeth clean is by avoiding the foods and drinks that make the biggest mouth messes. Sticky sweet foods like gummy fruit snacks or raisins, as well as chewy candies, like taffy or caramel, can be difficult to remove and therefore put teeth in danger. If you can see any remnant of meals or snacks on a child’s teeth, work hard to fully brush away that material.
Avoid mouthwashes with children who are not old enough to gargle and spit well on their own. Also, do not leave toothpaste within reach of unsupervised children who may decide to consume too much, especially if it has a pleasant taste.
By the age of 4, most kids have back molars that are tightly side-by-side. Once these teeth come together, it’s time to use dental floss daily to prevent cavities from forming between them. If it is hard to use traditional dental floss with your child, consider using the handheld disposable plastic flossers that are now widely available and affordable.
Establishing your child as a patient in a dental office by age one means that you will have a personalized assessment of how to best care for your child’s mouth. You’ll get a hands on lesson in effective ways to brush and care for all of the baby teeth in your life. A dental professional will use information from a child’s medical history, family dental history, and diet to customize how parents can protect the oral health of their children. Tooth decay can be prevented and every child can grow up with a healthy mouth when certain steps are taken to protect it. Please contact The Kids Dentist in Mequon or your local pediatric dentist to learn more about infant and toddler oral health care.Back to Dental Topics
Dr. Shane Fisher
Dr. Shane Fisher, a board certified pediatric dentist, has over 15 years of providing comprehensive dental care for infants, children and teenagers. He has consistently received 5 star ratings throughout social media. He has patients that travel from all over the metropolitan area including Mequon, Whitefish Bay, Thiensville, River Hills, Fox Point, Glendale and other northern Milwaukee suburbs.
If you would like for your child to have a great experience at a pediatric dentist, please call Dr. Shane A. Fisher at The Kids Dentist 262-241-0400 or complete an online appointment request.