By: Amber Basford, EDDA
As most parents out there know, it can be torturous trying to get our children to allow us to properly brush their teeth on a daily basis. I won’t even start in on the flossing! And, starting your child off with good dental care can help protect their teeth for decades to come. A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaw at birth. Those baby teeth that begin coming through the gums around 6 months help set the stage for their future smile, by keeping space in the jaw for adult teeth. Let’s review some guidelines which will hopefully steer you in the right direction, and make home care fun for your child.
It is recommended that we start a brushing routine as soon as the first tooth starts coming in, however, you may want to use a wet washcloth to wipe your child’s gums clean prior to tooth eruption. Now days there are many options to help aid in brushing, from textured BPA-free finger cots, to mini toothbrushes in every color and design you can imagine. Sonicare has even come out with a kids sonic toothbrush that comes with an interactive app, so your child can play games and track his or her daily brushing.
Now, lets talk about fluoride use. There is a lot of controversy regarding the use of fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes, especially with children. The American Dental Association recommends using a rice grain size of fluoridated toothpaste as soon as the baby teeth erupt. This recommendation recently changed, because studies show the remineralization effect of fluoride is important. Fluoride ions in and at the enamel surface result in fortified enamel that is not only more resistant to decay (loss of minerals or demineralization), but enamel that can repair or remineralize early dental decay caused by acids from decay-causing bacteria. Fluoride ions necessary for remineralization are provided by fluoridated water, as well as various fluoride products such as toothpaste. This publication was developed by the ADA’s Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations.
If you are opposed to fluoride use, there are many fluoride-free toothpastes on the market for kids.
As soon as two baby teeth are touching, you should begin the flossing process. Getting a regular piece of floss in your child’s mouth can be tricky so we recommend purchasing floss picks or flossing aids at your local grocery or drug store. They come in fun colors, flavors and animal shapes, which give kids the opportunity to participate in flossing. Fret not, if your child is initially resistant to flossing don’t force it. Let them play with the flossers themselves, and eventually they will encourage your help.
Last but not least, lets touch on diet. The food and drink your child consumes plays a huge part in his or her rate of decay. We realize that kids are going to eat candy and occasionally drink juice or soda. The important thing is to make sure these treats aren’t marinading your child’s teeth. Ideally, your child would brush and floss after a sugary snack but let’s be honest… Most of us don’t carry a toothbrush and floss in our diaper bag. Swishing with plain water or having a healthy snack (carrot, celery or the like) to disrupt the sugar on the surface of the teeth, helps tremendously. Also, remember to avoid putting your child to bed with milk or juice. Stick to water in the sippy cup.
It is recommended that you start bringing your child to the dentist around age 2-3 years unless you have concerns before then. This is more for establishing a relationship with your child and teaching them that the dentist is a fun place to visit. All of our hygienists are excellent with children and have little tricks up their sleeve to make their first visits with Metropolitan Dental Care, happy visits!