Learn new ways you can help keep your kid’s smile healthy and bright.
As a parent, you’re probably well versed in kids’ dentistry 101. Limit their sugar intake. Make sure they brush twice a day for two minutes. Schedule regular exams with a pediatric dentist every six months. But what about other ways of safeguarding your child’s oral health?
Here are 9 random but very important tips for parents who want to really cover all the bases when it comes to keeping their kid’s teeth strong and healthy.
1. Sports drinks and 100% fruit juice can be just as damaging to teeth as soda and candy.
You already know that kids’ dentistry 101 says sugar-filled soda and candy is bad for oral health, but did you know that your kid’s favorite sports drinks and juice can be just as bad? Fruit juice may seem healthy, but a simple glass of 100% apple juice actually contains as much sugar as a glass of soda. This sugar may be natural fruit sugar, but it affects teeth in just the same way processed sugars do. Fruit juices, like sports drinks, can also be high in acids that hurt teeth even more.
2. Encouraging your child to chew xylitol gum after meals or drinks will keep oral bacteria at bay.
Studies show that xylitol is effective at preventing dental cavities in people of all ages. In fact, xylitol syrup and other products can be given to children as a means of preventing tooth decay. An easier option is to encourage your child to chew a stick of sugar-free xylitol gum after meals, non-water drinks, or if they’re craving something a little sweet. Click here to see which xylitol gums are ADA-recommended for cavity protection.
3. Mouth guards may be optional for non-contact kids sports, but they’re the most effective way of preventing impact-related injuries.
Mouth guards are a must for contact sports such as football and wrestling, but they’re also excellent protection for non-contact sports like baseball or softball, soccer, and BMX or motocross. Sports that involve high speeds or close contact with other players can easily lead to an accidental injury, especially for younger kids who are still a little clumsy. Ask your child’s dentist for their help with determining if a mouth guard is a good idea.
4. You can reduce your kid’s chance of cavities by 80% with dental sealants.
Dental sealants are optional, but considering their level of effectiveness you might say they’re a must for kids’ dentistry. The CDC has found that dental sealants prevent 80% of cavities for the first two years and upwards of 50% for the first four years. Considering their affordable cost, longevity, and how minimally invasive application is, dental sealants are a great option for kids of all ages.
5. Supervised flossing should start as soon as your child has two teeth touching.
Brushing should begin with the first tooth, with flossing being added into your child’s daily routine once two teeth are touching. Flossing should be supervised and carefully done so as to avoid irritating the gums. Parents and kids alike might find it easier to use a flosser tool rather than string floss, especially as kids transition to flossing their teeth by themselves.
6. Dental crowns on baby teeth prevent premature tooth loss that could affect future adult teeth.
Baby teeth may only be temporary, but their premature loss can affect your child’s speech, chewing ability, and cause alignment issues as their adult teeth begin to erupt. If your child has a tooth that has been badly affected by decay or trauma but is still savable, the dentist will likely recommend a dental crown. Dental crowns on baby teeth are often as simple as getting a filling and they ensure your child keeps their tooth until it naturally falls out.
7. Getting braces for your child can improve their future oral health as much as ensuring a straight, attractive smile.
Braces are often the go-to fix for kids with crooked teeth, but orthodontic care is not just for kids’ cosmetic dentistry Even if the look of your child’s smile doesn’t bother them, crooked teeth are more likely to develop issues with decay due to abnormal spacing allowing food debris and bacteria to become trapped. In this case, braces will improve their oral health as well as the appearance of their future adult smile.
8. Keep your kid on children’s toothpaste and other oral care products until they are at least 6 years of age.
Toothpaste and mouth rinses designed for kids tend to have less fluoride in them than adult toothpaste since youngsters are apt to accidentally swallow while brushing. After the age of 6, most kids are brushing well on their own (supervised) and know to spit out toothpaste. At this point, you can transition them to an adult or general fluoride toothpaste that will offer them more cavity protection. It’s a good idea to consult with your child’s dentist before making the switch to be safe.
9. Your baby should begin seeing a pediatric dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday.
We encourage parents to bring their baby in for their first appointment either by their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts—whichever comes first. These initial appointments help us pinpoint signs of potential bite or tooth alignment issues as your baby’s teeth begin to come in. They also give our dental team a chance to build a relationship with your child and gain their trust for future appointments.
Discover more tips for protecting your kid’s smile with a visit to We Make Kids Smile.
Eager to learn more about kids’ dentistry and what you can do as a parent to ensure your kids have their best smile?
If it’s been a while since your child’s last dental appointment, give our Waldorf or Prince Fredrick office a call to book a visit! During your kid’s exam, you’ll also have a chance to ask questions and get trusted advice on what you can do to keep your kid’s oral health on track.