Protecting children’s teeth is essential and taking a proactive role in at-home oral health care will help establish good habits in children as they develop. Pediatric dentists generally recommend that children have their first dental visit when the first tooth starts to grow in. If the teeth have not erupted (started coming through the gums) by the child’s first birthday, then a visit to the pediatric dentist should be a priority. Likewise, if the child has not been to a dental checkup by their first birthday, then one should be scheduled as soon as possible.
In addition to regular, twice-yearly professional cleanings and checkups, there are a number of ways parents can help children establish good dental health habits at home and reduce risks of cavities and other problems for a better overall dentist experience. Some parents begin establishing brushing habits before the first teeth erupt, using a very soft baby toothbrush or sponge toothbrush to stimulate the gums and get the child accustomed to the activity. As the teeth erupt, twice-daily brushing should become part of the routine and parents should assist children at least until age 10 or 12, depending on the child’s demonstrated capabilities.
Opting to remove bottles and forego pacifiers early will go a long way in preventing irregular tooth development and possible enhanced decay. Bottle mouth is a type of tooth decay seen in children that frequently sleep with a bottle, increasing sugars in the mouth leading to cavities and other decay. Pacifiers, and thumb-sucking behaviors, have been associated with irregular tooth growth and development, possibly contributing to bite issues that will eventually require orthodontic treatment to correct. As the teeth are growing, the presence of the bottle, pacifier, or thumb within the mouth can interrupt the growth pattern, of the front teeth especially, and force teeth to grow around the obstructing object or grow in at awkward angles.
Limiting excess sugar consumption can also play a role in protecting children’s teeth. Offer plain milk and water instead of juice or soft drinks, and fresh fruits and vegetables instead of cookies or high-sugar cereals. The raw veggies can also help remove some plaque from teeth and encourage healthy muscle tone throughout the jaws and face. Choosing healthy, low-sugar snacks and combining with good oral hygiene habits and regular visits to the dentist will support the development and overall health of children’s teeth ensuring they last.
For more information, contact our experienced pediatric dentists at Richardson Dentistry today!