Dental health is a subject near and dear to my heart since I am a Registered Dental Hygienist. I wanted to bring to your attention that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Th goal for this month is to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. I would like to give you a few tips on caring for your child’s teeth.
When should kids see the dentist for the first time?
Many books will tell you to take your baby to the dentist when the first tooth comes in. Honestly, there is not much that can be done a child that young! Most dentists recommend bringing your child in at the age of 3. At that age they are more likely to sit in the chair and actually open their mouth!
Of course if you notice any darks spots on your child’s teeth or they complain of pain, bring them into a dentist no matter what age they are.
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
As soon as the first tooth comes in. I know those teeth are teeny tiny, but they are important. There are a variety of infant toothbrushes to try- like the fingertip brush. If there are only a few teeth, you can also use a washrag to wipe them off.
For babies and young kids, make sure you use a non-fluoridated toothpaste. You do not want your child to swallow the toothpaste. If they are not spitting the paste out, they should use a Training Toothpaste with no fluoride. Although fluoride is imporant in preventing cavities, it is not good for your child to consume large quantities.
Once your child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste, switch them over to a toothpaste with fluoride.
Brushing & Flossing
Children need help brushing their teeth for several years. They are not coordinated enough to brush all of their teeth on their own until they are at least 5- maybe older. Of course toddlers want to assert their independence! Let them brush their teeth first and then a parent should brush behind them. There is a free How to Brush Activity Sheet available to teach technique.
Brushing should be done at least two times a day for two minutes each time. Brushing before bedtime is extremely important- you don’t want all of the food they ate to sit on their teeth through the night.
Flossing is difficult on little ones. However, there are kids flossers that make it much easier. Even my four year old can floss his teeth on his own when use a flosser! Get your kids in the habit of flossing early. There is a free How to Floss Activity sheet available too.
Over the next month I will be giving you a few more tips on children’s dental health. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!