Toddler Tooth Tips – Caring for your children’s teeth
When it comes to our kids we want the best for them. The legacy of good dental care early will pay dividends – getting kids used to caring for their teeth right from the get go will make their lives (and yours) so much simpler.
Start good habits early.
It’s never too early to start with dental care, before teeth even emerge it’s a good idea to wipe baby’s gums with a soft cloth to keep little mouths bacteria free.
First tooth! Yay! Get out the camera – and the toothbrush!
As soon as teeth appear they can be cleaned with a soft brush (ask your dentist if you’re not sure) and water. (Toothpaste can wait until your child can spit, rather than swallow it.)
Dental Care rhythms and routines are good – twice a day, morning and night. Remember to brush along your child’s gum line to clean away any trapped food and bacteria that could cause cavities and inflamed gums.
May the Floss Be With You!
Once Little One’s teeth start to touch you can introduce your toddler to floss. If you’re unsure it’s might be an idea to enlist your dentist’s help to get the technique right. Flossing is not optional for you or the kids, so getting it right and making it habit is important right from the start. Perhaps make a game of cleaning to keep your little one interested – and keep to a routine, just as you do with your own oral hygiene. Little ones love to mimic so they’ll be happy to be doing something they see you do every day. Cleaning your teeth together is a good idea when it’s possible.
A word on bottles.
Baby bottles can create problems for your child’s dental health. When milk or juice is allowed to stay in contact with the teeth for a prolonged period the sugars can cause decay. It’s recommended that little ones don’t drink juice from a bottle, that they are not put to bed with a bottle, or walk around with a bottle. Your child should be able to manage a drinking cup around the first birthday (Yay! You made it!).
When should we start visiting the dentist?
The earlier the better here, even if it’s just coming with you for your regular check, so that your child is familiar with the environment and process.
ADA recommends dental check-ups from one year old and your child should definitely be seeing the dentist regularly before they start school. Just like a first birthday, first tooth, first haircut, the first dental visit should be a happy milestone.
Prevention rather than cure.
Regular dental visits will enable your dental professional to monitor and maintain your child’s dental care and avoid any need for invasive treatment. Good habits, good hygiene, regular dental check-ups will have your children loving their visits to the dentist.
Some tips for your first visit to your dentist:
- Your child is brave already, they don’t need the reminder.
- Bribery isn’t necessary.
- Please avoid saying ‘it will (won’t) hurt.
- It’s not a good idea to use policemen and dentists as deterrents.
- If you’re anxious your child will be too. Relax. Leave it to the pro’s.
Parents play an important role in making dental visits positive and enjoyable for their kids, use positive child friendly chat when talking about the dentist and we’ll do the rest!
How about Fluoride?
Fluoride strengthens enamel against acid and helps reduce the formation of cavities. Most water supplies are fluoridated, but if yours isn’t, or you use purified water, you could ask your dentist for fluoride supplements. If you’re unsure, talk to your dentist before supplementing.
Sweets and treats.
We all like a treat now and then, the secret is to limit or avoid certain foods such as sugary food, juice, candy, (even sweetened liquid medicines) that can erode enamel and cause cavities. If you and your kids do indulge in a treat here and there, rinse your mouth afterwards with water to wash away sugar residue.
Love sport? Love your mouthguard
Once your kids are at school there is a world of fun to be had in sport. If your child has chosen to play a contact sport, a custom fitted properly made mouthguard is a worthwhile investment. Check your health fund for available rebate.
If your child hasn’t seen a dentist yet, now is the time to start a positive dental care routine. It’s never too late or too early to begin good habits in Dental Care.