The American Dental Association (ADA) celebrates National Children's Dental Health Month in February. This national health observance reinforces the importance of oral health in children and helps parents keep their child's smile on track with health smile tips! At Sawgrass Pediatric Dentistry, my staff and I are taking this opportunity to generate awareness at an early age as we share oral health tips.
First Dental Visit, First Tooth, First Birthday.
I'm often asked, "When should my child first see a dentist?" I say, "It's never too early to start focusing on your child's oral health!" First tooth or first birthday is the recommendation to parents from the ADA of Pediatric Dentists. The primary visit is an excellent opportunity for parents/guardians to address any dental concerns and ask questions. During this visit, I will check the child's mouth to check their gums and any erupted teeth by gently swabbing the child's mouth. As the child starts teething, we will implement preventative measures for any concerns with your baby's teeth and monitor their progress.
Protect Tiny Teeth
Baby teeth have a crucial role in saving space for a child's permanent teeth. Baby teeth affect their speaking, chewing, and of course, smiling and typically stay in a child's mouth for 8-10 years. A child's baby teeth can also indicate their overall quality of health. Tooth decay left untreated can cause oral infections that enter the bloodstream and lead to other serious health problems while allowing bacteria to spread to new adult teeth.
While daily brushing is essential, it's so important to help your kids incorporate flossing into their daily routine because bacteria that cause tooth decay can still linger between teeth where the toothbrush can't reach.
Baby bottle tooth decay is one significant oral health risk for infants and young children under the age of 1. This occurs when bacteria in the mouth consume the sugar and produce acid from the sugary liquids your child drinks. This enamel on your baby's teeth is attached by acid and can trigger tooth decay after continued exposure. Beverages that contribute to this condition include milk, formula, fruit juice, soda, and other sweetened drinks. Water is the safest option if your child needs to sleep with a bottle.
Did You Know?
The chronic childhood disease impacting more children than asthma is early childhood tooth decay. Once children reach kindergarten, more than 40% of children have tooth decay, according to the ADA. Tiny cavities can lead to much larger problems in little mouths without routine six-month dental exams and establishing at an early age healthy oral health habits.
Maintaining Your Child's Oral Health
I take pride in serving patients in such vital early childhood years. As a pediatric dentist, I've gone through additional training beyond dental school to work specifically with children and babies in monitoring early oral development. Start your little ones on their healthy smiles journey with a few of these oral health tips.
Routine check-ups. If it's been longer than six months since your child has been seen by a dentist, make an appointment. Keep in mind that, like many offices, our schedule stays booked months in advance, so the earlier you schedule, the more likely your child's visits will stay on track.
Clean those baby gums daily. While waiting on the baby's teeth to come in, clear away harmful bacteria after each feeding by gently wiping a damp washcloth over the gums.
Start brushing with the first tooth. When you see the first tooth coming in, start brushing your baby's teeth with an infant toothbrush using a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) and water.
Brush twice each day for two minutes. Children ages 2-6 should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Because younger kids are likely to swallow toothpaste, always supervise kids younger than six years old while brushing.
Be a Floss Boss! Once your child's teeth touch, You can start flossing your child's teeth in between once they start to touch.
Snack healthy! Fruit juice, fruit snacks, sports drinks, and sticky candies pose severe threats to your child's teeth. Give kids calcium-rich snacks like low-sugar yogurt or cheese. If you have to resort to candy – a chocolate bar is preferable to gummy or sticky sweets that can get lodged in between the teeth, even after brushing.
Keep them hydrated! Avoid sugary drinks and stick to good old-fashioned water. Water helps rinse any sugar or particles that can lead to cavities. Many municipal water sources also contain fluoride, which the American Dental Association and U.S. Surgeons General, among others, as an efficient way to prevent tooth decay.
Replace your child's toothbrush every three to four months.
Sawgrass Pediatric Dentistry has provided quality pediatric dental care to the families within the Carolina Forest/Myrtle Beach community while providing access to dental care that is fun, engaging, and educational for patients.