A Guide for Proper Dental Treatment at Every Age
When your child was first born you probably started following a rigorous schedule of appointments with your pediatrician to keep him or her healthy. Many parents are not aware that children also need proper dental care and oral check-ups starting at an early age.
Tooth decay in toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children is one of the leading preventable diseases in the U.S. It can lead to several health and lifestyle complications, including pain and soreness, improper speech development, inability to chew properly, missed school days, premature loss of baby teeth, infections, inflammation and gum disease. Here is a quick guide to help you understand your child’s oral care needs from birth through teenage years.
Just because kids lose baby teeth doesn’t mean they don’t need them—baby teeth are important placeholders for adult teeth and are at risk for tooth decay without proper care.
Birth to 12 months:
- Make oral health check-ups part of your baby’s well-child visits with your doctor.
- When the first teeth erupt from the gums, wipe them gently with a wet washcloth or lightly brush them with water and an extra soft bristle toothbrush. Do not use toothpaste.
12 to 24 months:
- Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day using a baby toothbrush and water. Talk to the dentist about whether you should use toothpaste.
- Avoid sugary drinks like juice or milk between meals and fill bottles with water when putting children to sleep.
- Wean children of sucking habits on things like pacifiers or thumbs.
- Take your child for their first visit with a dentist before age 2.
- Talk to your dentist about how to help your child get enough fluoride, especially in Utah where it’s not added to the water supply.
Baby teeth play a role in helping toddlers and preschoolers with chewing, swallowing, speech development, and creating space for adult teeth.
- Help children brush their teeth for 2 minutes, 2 times a day. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste, making sure the child doesn’t swallow it.
- Begin flossing as soon as two teeth touch each other.
- Dentists recommend that you continue to help your child brush until the age of 4, or around the time they have the motor skills to neatly write their name.
- Go in for dental check-ups once or twice a year.
- Fill sippy cups with water and limit sugary drink intake (juice, milk, sports drinks, soda, lemonade, and tea).
- Feed your child healthy meals and snacks that are low in sugar.
- Around age 6 children will start losing baby teeth as permanent teeth erupt.
- Schedule dentist appointments every six months for check-ups and cleanings.
- Feed children healthy food and snacks to help develop strong teeth and healthy gums.
- Talk to your dentist about getting sealants on permanent molars to protect against cavities.
- As children begin participating in sports and outdoor recreation, make sure teeth are protected with a mouthguard.
- The American Academy of Orthodontists recommends children get screened around age 7 to identify developmental, jaw, or bite problems. Correcting issues early may prevent more extensive (and expensive) orthodontic treatment later.
Pre-Teen and Teenager’s Teeth
As children grow, they should take on more responsibility for good oral health.
- Teens should be brushing morning and night with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Encourage flossing at least once a day to remove plaque between teeth.
- Continue to visit the dentist for check-ups twice a year.
- Help your teenagers eat a healthy diet that is high in lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in sugar and processed foods.
- Teach your children about the dangers of cigarette, secondhand smoke and vaping, which can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and other health issues.
- Visit an orthodontist (if you have not done so to find out if your child will need braces. Roseman Dental & Orthodontics – NV Location offers reduced cost orthodontic treatment.
Proper oral health care at an early age can help prevent problems later in life. Oral health is intricately connected to our overall health and should be just as much a priority as doctor visits. If you don’t have a dentist, contact our clinic to find affordable and high-quality dental care for your whole family.