Oral Health Care for Children
Teaching our children about the proper oral health habits are lessons they’ll value for the rest of their lives. Children follow their parents’ lead – if you’re taking care of your own teeth, it sends your child a positive message that it’s important to do so. To help instill healthy habits that will protect your children’s teeth and gums and minimize their risk of cavities and gingivitis, here are some helpful tips:
- Brushing – Encourage them to brush their teeth at least twice a day
- It is best for parents to continue to take charge and “have a turn” at brushing their children’s teeth, until the child develops the proper hand-eye coordination to master this skill on their own, which usually occurs around the ages of 6 to 8 years.
- Toothpaste – The use of an ADA-approved, fluoride containing, toothpaste is always encouraged, as Flouride is a naturally occurring mineral that strengthens tooth enamel. However, non-Flouride containing toothpastes can be used by parents to brush the teeth of very young children, if desired.
- Many children are highly selective when it comes to toothpaste flavors. Keep in mind that the primary objective of brushing the teeth is making sure that it gets done. So, if the toothpaste that your child prefers does not have Fluoride, then use the toothpaste flavor that they like best. They can graduate to a different tasting, Fluoride containing, toothpaste when they are older and ready to use “Mommy’s” or “Daddy’s” Toothpaste. They will usually get enough Fluoride for their developing teeth from tap water they drink.
- It is important to note that the flavoring in “Adult” flavored toothpastes can be too strong for young children and leave them with the feeling that the toothpaste is “Hot” or “Burns”. As a result, it is generally a good choice to use a bland, very mildly flavored, toothpaste that your child enjoys using.
- Flossing – You can begin to floss your child’s teeth as early as 2 to 3 years old, or about the time of the arrival of the baby second molars. Children often have developed the necessary coordination to begin flossing their own teeth by the time they are 8 to 10 years of age. Flossing between teeth and under the gumline reduces plaque that can turn into a hardened tartar, or calculus, build-up on the teeth.
- Sugar – Eat balanced diets with minimal starches and foods containing sugar. Candy and other “sticky foods” that are high in sugar content and/or take a long time to dissolve should be avoided. Sugary foods cause tooth decay by the production of acids from bacterial plaque. Diets with plenty of calcium, phosphorous and adequate levels of fluoride are ideal.
Proper oral health care can guard against dental problems (link to dental problems) and periodontal diseases, which always begin with chronic gingivitis. Be sure to schedule regular dental visits for kids oral care checkups and cleanings with your pediatric dentist. Additionally, be on the look out for bleeding gums, swollen or red gums, receding gums and bad breath – all possible signs of periodontal disease.
Strong teeth, a healthy smile and nice-smelling breath are all contributors to a person’s confidence and self-esteem. Be sure to encourage and promote general oral health for children at an early age. Remember, by setting a good example with your own teeth and oral health, your child is more likely to inherit those habits themselves.
If you’re considering a pediatric dentist for your child’s oral health needs, please contact us. We have been in the Indianapolis area for over 60 years with many families entrusting their children to our care for 2 and 3 generations. That is a lot of experience in pediatric dentistry and in meeting the needs of the children of Indianapolis.