Many parents wonder how much attention should be paid to the health of their children’s smiles, especially at early ages when there are no teeth present or when they just have their “baby teeth” that will eventually fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth. The best oral care for children should be started before baby teeth even come in. Starting early and beginning a regular habit of oral hygiene can set children up to have healthier teeth in the long run. As a parent you should bring your children along for visits starting as early as possible.
While most babies do not begin to get teeth until well into their first year of life, those teeth are still present beneath the gums, and parents can start early to keep their baby’s mouth clean. Running a damp washcloth over a baby’s gums at least once a day can help to wipe away bacteria. Once the teeth begin to come in, parents can use a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for infants along with a small dab of toothpaste to brush the tiny teeth until about age two. Once children are able to spit on their own, they should be able to brush with a pea-sized amount while supervised.
Prevention Begins at Home
While visiting a dentist can help ensure that a small child’s teeth are being cared for properly, parents are the best source of prevention against tooth decay. Practicing good habits and establishing routines that promote healthy teeth can keep children from requiring extensive dental work in the future. When a small child attends an appointment at a dental office, the dentist can help parents identify eating or drinking habits at home that might be causing problems. While it may be more convenient for mom and dad, putting a child to bed with a bottle can lead to decay and other issues and should be avoided. Additionally, the consumption of too much sugar can create cavities, so children should drink water instead of sugary juices, milk, or soda. Both of these problems can be solved at home.
Dental visits should be encouraged for children at an early age to begin the path to good oral health for a lifetime.