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Facts on how to keep your little one's teeth sparkling!
Oral habits are established early in a child’s life. It is the parent’s responsibility to set the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health for their children. Here are some reasons it’s essential to protect baby teeth and some helpful ways to help your child establish a healthy mouth.
How much toothpaste should I use when brushing my child’s teeth?
Most health officials agree, children under age 3 should use a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice, while those aged 3 to 6 should limit it to a pea-sized amount.
Why is it important to keep baby teeth healthy?
Baby teeth are replaced by permanent teeth so it’s not a big deal if they decay and fall out, right? WRONG! Baby teeth are critical in the development of proper eating and speaking patterns. In addition to these reasons, baby teeth also help establish good self-esteem by providing children a beautiful smile. Baby teeth are important space holders for permanent teeth. If baby teeth are lost early or removed by the dentist because of decay, permanent teeth may come in crooked or not have enough space to erupt into the mouth at all! Lastly, decay in baby teeth compromises the permanent teeth. Where there’s decay, there are active bacteria feeding on teeth structures. If bacteria is attacking baby teeth, it’s also attacking permanent teeth. Thus, to have strong, healthy permanent teeth, we need healthy baby teeth as well.
How can I help my child establish a healthy mouth?
A proper routine of brushing and flossing needs to be established as soon as the first tooth appears in the mouth or around age 6 months. Where there are no teeth, gums should be wiped with a soft, clean cloth or infant toothbrush after feedings. Brushing morning and night and flossing once a day is usually adequate to keep the mouth healthy at this stage. Between 6 months and 1 year of age, every child should see the dentist for his/her first checkup. This is another way to establish a healthy routine of good dental care in your child’s life.
Children should not be put to bed with anything besides water.
Bottle rot or nursing mouth syndrome are the terms given to rampant decay due to putting children to bed with milk, juice, or formula, which all contain sugar. Sugar sits on the teeth and promotes decay throughout the sleeping period if children are put to bed with a bottle or sippy cup filled with something other than water.
Sugary, sticky foods and sodas should be consumed in moderation.
Drinking or eating sugary foods in between meals creates an environment where bacteria can thrive. Children should limit the amount of junk food they eat and also choose nutritious snacks between meals. If chewing gum between meals, always choose sugar free gum. Parents can help eliminate the transfer of bacteria to a child by not engaging in saliva-transferring behaviors such as sharing utensils, toothbrushes, and beverages, or licking pacifiers to clean them before giving them to a child.
Oral care should never be viewed as a punishment or in a negative light.
Threats such as, “you’d better brush or the dentist will pull all your teeth out,” or “the dentist is going to give you a shot and it’s going to hurt,” are detrimental in establishing a healthy view of oral hygiene and visits to the dentist. Dental checkups and daily home care should both be encouraged in a positive manner. Some positive examples are, “this is the
dentist, he/she makes sure your teeth are strong and healthy” and “we brush every night to clean our mouths and get rid of cavity bugs.” Early habits of good oral hygiene are vital for a lifetime of proper oral health.