5 Dental Prevention Tips for Parents
As parents, we do our best to make sure our kids grow up healthy and strong. We try to make them eat their veggies, we teach them how to ride a bike, we take them to the doctor when they’re sick, and we love them unconditionally. Today, we’ll talk about one element of your child’s health that many parents struggle with — protecting your child’s teeth. Keep reading to find out 5 dental prevention tips every parent needs to know.
Start oral hygiene early
Oral hygiene should start from the moment your baby is born. It may seem odd at first to wipe their toothless gums with a damp cloth after every feeding. But it’s a critical step in preventing issues with your child’s teeth from popping up in the future.
Once the first tooth breaks through the gum line you’ll know it’s time to switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Start brushing your child’s teeth with water at least twice a day and begin flossing the moment two teeth touch each other. You can also add a small “smear” of toothpaste with no fluoride — since it’s safe to swallow — for kids between the ages of two and five. Once your child is old enough to spit, use a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Remember to also brush the tongue and the gums. That’s where most of the harmful bacteria in the mouth resides.
Eat healthy foods
Yes, dental care and cavity prevention tips such as brushing and flossing regularly can prevent several oral problems from developing. But did you know that what your child eats can also affect the health of their smile? All foods containing sugar can cause tooth decay and lead to cavities if left untreated. So it’s important that your child eats a well-balanced diet that also provides tooth-friendly minerals like calcium. That means also staying away from fizzy drinks, and sticky or acidic foods.
Eating healthy won’t happen overnight and your child may still crave a snicker bar or an ice cream cone once in a while. What should you do then? In three words: practice smart snacking. Let your child consume their candy of choice in one sitting and brush their teeth right after. If you don’t have access to a toothbrush, have them rinse their mouth with water to get rid of any food particles. In doing so, you’ll help reduce the risk of enamel erosion and keep your child’s smile looking healthier longer.
Wear a mouthguard
When your child heads out for a game, you probably remind them to wear a helmet, facemask, or shin guards, and even carry a water bottle. One thing that may be missing from your list — a mouthguard. If your child gets hit by a ball, a bat, or another player in the face, two things can happen: one, they only cut their lip or two, a tooth chips or falls out. The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation estimates that over three million teeth get damaged in youth sports events. So while mouthguards may not be a requirement in every sport, wearing one can protect your child’s teeth, tongue, and face from injury.
And if you think it’s only parents whose kids play baseball or ice hockey that need to worry, you couldn’t be more wrong. Swimming pools are the number one cause of dental injuries occurring in the spring and summer months. Mouthguards can also cushion impact and prevent injury from recreational sports like skateboarding, rock climbing, skating, or any other activity where your child’s face and mouth are at risk.
Consider dental sealants
Sure, when it comes to preventing oral health problems in your child’s teeth there’s no better dental prevention tip than brushing and flossing. Nonetheless, dental sealants are a strong contender. Ask any parent: teaching your child to brush (at least twice a day) and floss regularly isn’t easy — particularly when you’re strapped for time. Dental sealants can help with that.
Here’s how it works: see those up and down ridges in the teeth at the back of your child’s mouth? Well, your child’s dentist can apply a thin protective coating on top of the molars and premolars. This dental sealant prevents bacteria and food particulars from accumulating, while also protecting the enamel from eroding due to frequent exposure to acidic foods and drinks. Even if your child brushes and flosses like the kids in the toothpaste commercials, sealants give their teeth an extra measure of protection.
See a pediatric dentist regularly
Your baby’s dental checkups should begin as early as their first birthday or as soon as the first tooth comes out. During that visit, your child’s dentist can determine the effectiveness of your oral hygiene routine and recommend improvements where necessary. Making regular dental appointments for your child (at least twice a year) can help decrease the risk of dental caries — the most common chronic disease in children aged 5 to 12.
If you’re reading this you probably ask your child to “say ahh” often so you can examine their teeth for any signs of damage, decay, or cavities. Go you! However, for your child to have the best protection you need to catch any oral health issues before symptoms become noticeable. That’s where the pediatric dentists at We Make Kids Smile come in. From baby wellness to routine cleanings and cavity care, we offer the best treatment and care plans available in Southern Maryland. Request an appointment with us to keep your child smiling so you can smile too.