Whether you have a child learning to walk or learning to drive, it is important to make pediatric dental care a priority. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that “baby teeth” don’t need proper care, as these primary teeth serve critical roles towards your child’s development and well-being. When primary teeth are healthy, they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, and they hold the place for permanent teeth until they are ready to emerge.
Dental care for kids can look different at each stage. Over the years, your child will encounter various phases of oral development and unique demands within dental hygiene. Here’s an overview of what you can expect in terms of how to keep your child’s smile healthy as they grow:
No teeth doesn’t mean you are exempt from oral hygiene. Even infants can benefit from dental care at home. You can begin by cleaning your baby’s gums with a soft cloth after each feeding. This removes milk or formula from the gums, and serves as a healthy stimulation for the gums as they prepare for teething.
Once your baby’s first tooth makes its appearance, you can start using a soft, appropriately-sized toothbrush twice per day. This is also the time when you can schedule his or her first dental visit! It is recommended that children see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday. This is a brief dental appointment that can be very influential in getting your child comfortable with the dentist.
Most children have all of their teeth by about three years old. This is an ideal age to begin teaching them about proper dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing techniques. It is still too early to let your child brush on their own, but there are many ways that you can make the daily habit fun for your child. There are brushing apps for kids, fun toothbrushes, flavored floss and other pediatric dental products to create a positive association with dental care for your preschooler. This is also the time that you may need to start addressing thumb and pacifier sucking habits. If such habits continue past preschool age, there is risk for misalignment and other dental issues.
Once your child leaves the preschool years, you can increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste to a “pea-size dollop.” Parents can choose to either perform or assist their young child’s brushing. Make sure you use fluoride toothpaste and encourage your child to spit the excess out instead of swallowing it after brushing.
Education becomes critical at this stage, as children are at an age when they develop their own opinions and habits about dental care. Model and teach them about the dangers of sugary and acidic foods and drinks. They are able to understand how cavities form as well as what they can do to prevent them.
As your child ages, they can start brushing their own teeth. Start with having your child brush with your supervision. They may need help flossing until they gain enough dexterity to get the job done effectively. As a general rule, if your child can tie his or her own shoe or write in cursive, he or she is likely ready to floss independently. Your dentist will likely offer sealants as extra protection for your child’s smile during elementary school. The ADA recommends dental sealants for kids ages 5 to 14. Sealants are an excellent way to prevent cavities from forming in the pits and grooves of the back chewing teeth, as these are teeth that are more difficult to keep clean and easily trap food and plaque.
If you have a teenager in your house, we know you have to pick your battles. But don’t let oral hygiene fall by the wayside. When it comes to adolescence and dental care, there are several concerns that commonly arise, including wearing a mouthguard during sports, orthodontic treatment, wisdom teeth removal and gingivitis due to surging hormones.
Your teen may also become more aware of how their smile looks. As your teen ages, you can speak to a cosmetic dentist about improving certain smile imperfections, such as teeth stains, chips, misalignment and gaps. It can be important for the health and appearance of your teen’s teeth to foster a positive self-esteem during the emotionally turbulent years of adolescence.
Pediatric Dental Care in Marietta
Does your child need a dentist? By choosing Grateful Dental, the same caring dentist that treats your own smile can also see your child. We proudly offer comprehensive dental care for the entire family, from babies to grandparents and everyone in between. We value the importance of preventative dental care, especially for children. If it has been longer than six months since your toddler or teenager has seen a dentist, please call our Marietta office today to book your appointment.