Children’s Dental Health… What Every Parent Should Know!
In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, the Dr. E Cosmetic & Family Dentistry team wants to remind parents and caregivers everywhere the importance of children’s oral health. We all know that healthy dental habits begin at home, with parents playing a major role in their children’s dental health. That’s why instilling good habits early on leads to a lifetime of healthy, beautiful smiles!
With this in mind, Dr. E is sharing these important facts and tips to help parents support their children’s dental needs and overall oral health and wellness:
What should EVERY parent know about children’s dental health?
According to the American Dental Association, more than 40% of children suffer from tooth decay by the time they enter Kindergarten. Sadly, kids who have poor dental health are three times more likely to miss school due to dental problems. That’s because untreated cavities can be responsible for pain and infections that may lead to young children having difficulty with eating, speaking, playing and learning.
When should I start caring for my baby’s teeth?
It’s never too early! Before baby’s first tooth even erupts, parents should gently clean the gums with a damp washcloth. As baby teeth emerge, parents should clean the teeth and gums with a soft-bristled infant toothbrush and wipe them around after feedings to prevent bottle decay. As parents proudly document all of baby’s first milestones, that first trip to the dentist should be included before two-years-old — and of course dental visits should then recur regularly for a lifetime.
What happens during my child’s dental check up?
As children enter the school age years, parents should schedule their regular dental visits every six months, with x-rays introduced at approximately five-years-old. During dental well checks, the dentist will thoroughly clean the teeth, check for cavities and irregularities, and periodically apply sealants to the baby teeth help form a protective barrier against cavity-causing bacteria.
What should I know about the transition from baby teeth to permanent teeth?
Between the ages of six through twelve-years-old, most children will begin to lose their baby teeth and gain their permanent teeth. When the tooth fairy begins to enter the scene, it’s more important than ever for parents to monitor their children’s dental hygiene to help ensure that permanent teeth are properly cared for. As the teen years approach, parents should also watch out for the third set of molars to emerge, which can pose problems if there is not enough space in the mouth to accommodate the wisdom teeth.
Smile and stay positive!
Don’t allow oral hygiene to feel like a chore. Instead, make caring for your family’s teeth a healthy and FUN habit in your home. Consider instituting a reward system (think stickers or extra privileges) for good brushing and flossing habits. Let children pick out their favorite character toothbrush or colorful toothpaste to make their routine more fun. Sing your child’s favorite songs as they brush … there are endless ways to be creative (and even silly!) in order to make oral hygiene a fun, positive experience in your home.
How can I model good dental habits for my kids?
Modeling healthy nutrition and dental habits for kids is one of the most effective ways for parents to promote long-term dental health and overall wellness. Children who observe their parents making healthy lifestyle choices will be encouraged to follow suit! Therefore, parents should encourage kids to opt for plenty of water and a nutritious diet while steering them away from sugary drinks and foods. Likewise, children who observe their parents regularly brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist will adopt these healthy habits as their own into the teen and adult years.
It’s never too early (or late!) to adopt healthy dental habits for the whole family. During National Children’s Dental Health Month and beyond, take note of the above tips to make dental care and wellness a priority in your home.
Be sure to visit Dr. E regularly to maintain healthy, beautiful smiles for the whole family! Contact us today to schedule your dental exam: 480-494-2435