By explaining to your child why taking care of their teeth and oral health is important, they will develop a healthy relationship with oral hygiene and dental care. If you as a parent suffer from dental anxiety, it’s important not to vocalize these feelings to your child.
Children can pick up on a parent’s tone and feelings and will mimic them. You should avoid using negative language when it comes to talking about the dentist. Don’t use words that can cause fear such as “pain” or “needle.”
If your child views dental care as something positive that keeps them healthy, they’re less likely to neglect their oral health or avoid necessary dental treatments. This will save time and money on your part and save your child from having to undergo invasive and complex dental treatments.
Get your child involved in their oral health from an early age. Make them excited about choosing their favorite toothbrush designed with fun colors or characters and lights. Children tend to like electric toothbrushes, which take a lot of the work out of brushing, and encourage them to brush for the proper two minutes.
When food particles are left behind in the mouth due to inadequate brushing or flossing, bacteria in the mouth feed off of sugar and transform them into acids. This acid attacks the tooth enamel. Over time, the enamel becomes weakened and holes or cavities begin to form.
If cavities are not treated promptly, the decay can become extensive, leading to infected tooth pulp that can spread to other teeth and throughout the body. Gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by a buildup of plaque along the gumline. Plaque is also a result of inadequate oral hygiene.
Once it builds up, it can be difficult to remove and will harden into tartar which can only be removed by a dentist. The presence of tartar causes an inflammatory response in the gums which leads to red, swollen, and bleeding gums. As the disease progresses, it leads to irreversible bone loss and soft tissue damage.
Did you know that if your child uses a pacifier or sucks their thumb for too long it can cause severe long-term dental problems? Babies have a natural inclination to suck on things because it’s their way of self-soothing when they are stressed or upset. It can help them settle down, regulate their emotions, and fall asleep.
However, this behavior should not continue for too long. We recommend weaning your child off of pacifiers and thumb sucking by the time they are 4 years old but ideally by the time they turn 2. If the behavior continues until the permanent teeth come in, it can cause the following problems known as pacifier teeth:
- Gum recession
- Tooth decay
- A misaligned bite
- Changes to the roof of the mouth
- Buck teeth
- Difficulty with mastication
- Speech impediments
Teach your child how to brush their teeth properly: at a 45-degree angle with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day. Ensure that they floss their teeth every day and remember to brush their tongue as it harbors a lot of bacteria. They should only use a soft-bristle toothbrush so they don’t damage their enamel.
When it comes to the use of fluoride in children, there are different protocols for certain age groups. Before your child even forms a tooth, you should wipe their gums with a clean cloth. When your baby develops their first tooth, you can begin to use a baby toothbrush but should only use water until they are at least 18 months old.
From 18 months to 6 years old, a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used. This is because your child does not learn to stop swallowing the toothpaste until about 6 years old and excess fluoride intake can lead to fluorosis.
The ADA recommends that you take your child to the dentist by the time they turn one year old. However, if they receive their first tooth before then, you should take them once their first tooth has erupted.
This appointment is about examining your child’s mouth to ensure they’re healthy, helping familiarize them with dental visits, and informing parents about when to expect future tooth eruptions and how to care for their child’s oral health.
By the time your child turns two, they should be returning to the dentist every 6 months for dental cleanings and checkups. During these dental visits, we screen for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. We also scrape away plaque buildup, polish and floss their teeth, and apply fluoride varnish for protection against cavities.
Schedule your child’s next dental cleaning and checkup at Harmony Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Maddy Goodman or Dr. Heather Sholander.