Providing Your Child with Proper Tooth Care
Teaching your child the importance of tooth care is vital as he or she grows older. By providing your child with good tooth care, as early as their first baby teeth show, you can help your child to remain cavity-free. Bacteria and food particles can develop into plaque, which contains acid-producing bacteria that eat away at the tooth’s hard coating, or enamel. Brushing daily keeps plaque from forming, thus preventing tooth decay. It is important to start your child’s tooth care when they are young; parents should begin to brush a baby’s tooth as it first appears. At first, you can use a piece of cotton gauze and water, and as more teeth come in you should upgrade to a small toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. As your child grows old enough to brush his or her own teeth, be sure to supervise to be confident that your child is brushing correctly.
Your child’s first teeth are called primary (or baby) teeth and begin to come in between 4 and eighteen months of age. For most children, their primary teeth have fully surfaced by age 3 and by age 6 begin to fall out, which are then replaced by permanent, adult teeth. Unless you are concerned with a problem, your child’s first dental visit should be at age 2. Familiarizing your child with the dentist before a problem arises will allow your child to be comfortable and aware of the importance of oral health. A cleaning and checkup is then needed twice a year. When it comes to keeping your child’s teeth healthy in the meantime, it is important to consider flossing, using fluoride and placing sealants as permanent molars erupt.
Once baby teeth fully erupt and spaces between teeth disappear, flossing daily is essential, as it helps to remove bacteria and plaque that brushing cannot reach. When your child is old enough, he or she might use a floss holder to help them floss with ease.
Fluoride is also an important tool to help make your child’s tooth enamel stronger, and to prevent cavities. If your community’s water does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist whether your child should receive fluoride supplements. Fluoride can also be applied to your child’s teeth at regular dental visits.
Finally, sealants are a painless, safe, and inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay and are placed as permanent teeth erupt into your child’s mouth. When applying sealants to your child’s teeth, a thin, plastic coating is bonded to the surfaces of molars and premolars as to fill grooves to keep food and bacteria out.
A healthy smile starts at a young age. Make sure your child has the chance to have a lifetime of healthy oral care.