Good dental habits should begin at an early age in order to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. That’s why the American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month each February to bring awareness to the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers and others. Read on for seven important tips for taking care of your child’s teeth.
Schedule Regular Dentist Visits
Kids should see a dentist twice a year from the time their first teeth appear. Regular exams can identify problems with teeth erupting, while cleanings can help keep cavities to a minimum as they age.
Follow the 2 x 2 Rule
Teach your child to brush a minimum of two times per day, for two minutes each time, ideally in the morning and at bedtime. You can make this fun by keeping a timer by the sink or playing a song that lasts for two minutes while they brush.
Rinse After Every Meal
It’s not always possible for your child to brush after everything they eat, so encourage him or her to swish with water after meals. Getting into this habit early will not only help prevent decay, but will also help to rinse out debris when they have braces.
Floss Early and Often
Daily flossing is important for removing plaque, food, and bacteria from between teeth, so teach
children that flossing is just part of the brushing routine. You can begin by flossing for them when they are very young, then let them try on their own when they are 6 or 7. Children’s flossers are available to make flossing easier for kids.
Encourage a Love of Water
It’s always best for kids to drink water when they’re thirsty instead of juice or soda to avoid sugar from settling onto the teeth. Water also washes away decay-causing bacteria, and in many communities tap water is enhanced with fluoride to help build strong tooth enamel.
Provide Foods that Build Healthy Teeth
Eating healthy foods leads to fewer cavities. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy products are much easier on teeth than highly refined foods or high-carbohydrate foods like potato chips or candy. Also be wary of sticky foods like raisins, which can easily wedge in the grooves of the back teeth and feed the bacteria there throughout the day.
Ask About Dental Sealants
The back teeth naturally have grooves in them that are especially susceptible to decay. Around the age of 6, children’s teeth may be ready for sealants that cover these grooves and prevent food and bacteria from attacking these vulnerable areas. If your dentist doesn’t mention sealants, be sure to bring it up at your next scheduled cleaning.
See an Orthodontist Early
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends the first orthodontic screening at age 7 to identify emerging problems. Often there are not any issues, but catching developing problems early typically means easier and less invasive corrective measures. Referring dentists often agree that it’s important to correct jaw alignment problems – crossbites in particular – while kids are young to promote symmetrical growth.
Have Questions About Your Child’s Dental Health? Just Ask Our Experts!
Our Experts in the Art of Orthodontics are also trained dentists, so we know a lot about keeping children’s teeth healthy. We’d love to address any questions you have about your child’s dental health, so just give us a call and we’ll be glad to help.
If someone in your family needs braces, work with the experts at Bankhead Orthodontic Specialists. Serving the greater St. Louis area via six convenient locations, these trained specialists offer traditional, lingual and clear braces as well as Invisalign® to provide patients with highly customized solutions. Call (636) 978-8848 today to schedule a consultation, and visit the website for more information about braces.