Caring for your child's teeth

Caring for your child’s teeth

Most people don’t realize that taking care of your teeth can do more than just improve your smile.  When you have healthy teeth and gums you’re more confident and your overall health improves.

Having good teeth for life starts before your first tooth comes in. In fact, you can give your baby a better chance at good teeth when you are pregnant by taking good care of your teeth.  Not only are pregnant women more likely to get gum disease and cavities when expecting a baby, they also pass along any bacteria from tooth decay and cavities to baby.

Once your baby arrives you will want to watch for those signs that the first teeth are trying to come in.   You can rub your baby’s gums with clean fingers or moist gauze to help relieve teething pain.  Massaging the gums with your fingers not only feels good to teething babies, it helps them get used to having their teeth brushed.

When the first tooth comes in, start using just a smear of fluoride toothpaste on the tooth twice a day. You can use gauze instead of a toothbrush to start, those first teeth are very small.  And as more teeth appear, begin using just a rice size dab of toothpaste on a soft bristle toothbrush twice daily.

Preventing tooth decay starts when children are babies.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you do not put the baby to bed with a bottle that has milk, formula or juice or other sweet drinks.  Sucking on a bottle that contains anything other than water can cause tooth decay.  And children should be taught to drink from a cup around their first birthday.

And shortly after their first birthday, you’ll want to take your child to the dentist.  Your pediatrician can help you find a dentist who treats children.  By starting dental visits early, your child will get used to the dental office and all the different tools the dentist uses. At the first visit, your child’s dentist can let you know how often you will need to bring your child for check ups.

When your child turns three, you can start using a pea sized portion of fluoride toothpaste.  You’ll need to help your child brush all his or her teeth at first and gradually help them learn how to brush their teeth.  There are special toothbrushes that play songs to help your child know that they have spent a full 2 minutes brushing.  Teach your child to spit out the excess toothpaste but don’t rinse with water, which removes the fluoride that brushing leaves behind.

When checking your child’s teeth, look at the color.  Healthy teeth are all the same color. If you notice any difference in color or any spots then they need to see a dentist soon, to prevent more problems.

You can help your child’s teeth to stay healthy by making healthy food choices.  Fruit is sweet and far better than candy or cookies. Be careful with sticky foods like raisins that can stick between teeth and cause cavities.

As your child grows up, continue the good habits of brushing teeth twice daily, using dental floss and seeing a dentist regularly.

If you need help getting dental care for your child, contact us!

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