Our natural, permanent teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Even though children begin with primary (baby) teeth that they’ll eventually lose, caring for them is essential in ensuring that they have a healthy smile as they grow into adults. If you are having trouble finding fun, creative ways to get your child excited about caring for their teeth, Young Family Dental is here to help.
The Importance of Children’s Dental Health
Baby teeth are important to babies and small children because it allows them to begin chewing and speaking properly. Additionally, these temporary teeth also serve another important purpose: they save space for the future permanent adult teeth.
The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital explains that a baby tooth usually remains in the child’s mouth until a permanent tooth underneath it is ready to erupt through the gums. Once ready, the roots of the baby tooth dissolve and the tooth becomes loose and falls out. The permanent tooth starts to show a few weeks later. However, sometimes accidents happen and a child can lose a tooth too early. They can be accidentally knocked out because of a fall or have to be pulled due to disease. If this happens, a space maintainer is crucial in holding the space open until the adult tooth is ready to arrive.
Caring for Your Children’s Teeth
As a parent or caregiver to children, you have an important role in keeping your child’s teeth healthy until they are old enough to do it on their own. The American Dental Association explains that caring for your child’s mouth should include:
- Brushing their teeth two times a day, morning and night, with fluoride toothpaste. If you have a newborn, gently wipe their gums with a wet cloth to keep the mouth clean. For children under 3 years old, you only need an amount of toothpaste that is equal to the size of a grain of rice. For those older than 3 years old, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Help your child brush their teeth for two minutes each time and make sure that you watch them until they’re old enough to brush all sides of their teeth properly on their own.
- Cleaning between their teeth once a day with floss. As soon as your child has two teeth touching together, begin flossing. This will help remove food between teeth and under the gums. Flossing the teeth everyday can help prevent cavities from happening between teeth. Help your child floss until they’re old enough to do it on their own.
- Watch what your child eats. Don’t let your baby go to bed with a bottle. Additionally, try to limit the amount of fruit juices or soda your child consumes due to the high sugar content and acidic nature of these beverages. Sugar and acid can weaken the enamel of the teeth and put your child at a higher risk of cavities.
- Schedule your child dental appointments. As soon as your baby turns one or gets their first tooth, they should go to the dentist. Your dentist will examine your child’s mouth and tell you what you can expect next in their development.
Teaching Your Children to Prioritize Dental Health
One step in making sure your children have healthy smiles is teaching them to prioritize their dental health. It can be hard to make tooth brushing fun, however, our team at Young Family Dental is here with tips on what you can do to make dental care at home more fun:
- Let them pick out their own toothbrush. When you go to the store, there are many different toothbrush options for children that have all the current popular television and movie characters on them. To make dental care at home more exciting, let them pick out a toothbrush that has their favorite movie character on it, or a toothbrush that is their favorite color. This small choice often gets children excited about brushing their teeth each day.
- Have them pick a toothpaste flavor. Children should be using a fluoride toothpaste to help them prevent cavities from developing, but there are often many different flavors that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Look for this seal and let your children choose a flavor from the different approved options.
- Make up a song. If you are having trouble getting your child excited about brushing their teeth, create a fun song to sing each time you go to help them brush your teeth. If you don’t want to make one up on your own, a simple Youtube search can bring you many different sing-a-long options to help get your child ready to brush their teeth.
You know your child better than anyone. If these tips don’t work for your child, get creative! The most important thing is that their teeth are getting clean — morning and night.
Schedule Your Children Appointments at Young Family Dental
Your child’s first visit to a pediatric dentist should be when they turn 1 or when they get their first tooth (whichever happens sooner). During that visit, our pediatric dentist examines your child’s tooth/teeth, gums, bite and oral tissues. Call to schedule an appointment with our pediatric dentists at one of our five convenient locations in Orem, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Riverton or West Jordan.