It’s never too early to begin a healthy oral care routine. In fact, you should begin caring for your child’s gums long before their first tooth emerges, which is usually around the six-month mark of their life. Healthy gums are an important predicator of healthy teeth, and maintaining clean gums will help ensure that your child has healthy, cavity-free baby teeth.
You can clean your infant’s gums – or their first teeth – by simply using a cold, clean washcloth. Simply rinse a clean, soft washcloth with cool water and wring it out. After your child has finished eating, or drinking a sugary drink, use the damp washcloth to gently wipe out their mouth. This will remove any sugar or acid that’s left by their food, and help prevent early cavities.
Once your child has a few more baby teeth – usually between 8 and 12 months – then you can graduate from a washcloth to a toothbrush designed for toddlers. There are a lot of toothbrushes designed for babies and toddlers from which to choose. Generally speaking, toothbrushes designed for babies have much softer bristles and a smaller head than those meant for older children.
Use only a smear of toothpaste – about the size of a grain of rice – to brush their teeth. When they’ve gotten older and have more teeth, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Always be sure to rinse their mouth out with cool water after you’re done brushing, and try to keep them from swallowing any toothpaste.
Flossing is also important for baby teeth. Flossing helps remove the plaque and food that can become lodged between teeth. Be sure to floss your child’s teeth daily.
A child’s diet should include a healthy variety of all the food groups. Protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy are key to a balanced diet. Instead of feeding your child unhealthy snacks such as chips and crackers, opt instead for raw vegetables like carrots, celery and bell peppers. These vegetables will clean teeth as they’re eaten, instead of sticking to teeth and causing cavities like potato chips!
Cavities are easy to prevent! We recommend eating a balanced diet full of mouth-healthy fruits and vegetables. Avoiding sugary drinks and instead opting for lots of water, which prevents dry mouth. While water naturally cleans teeth, it’s important to also brush your child’s teeth twice a day for two minutes, and also floss daily. Make sure to visit your pediatric dentist every six months for routine checkups and preventative care.
Dental sealants aid in preventing cavities by sealing off grooves that occur naturally within molars. When a sealant is placed on a tooth, it “seals off” the pit and fissures within the molars. This helps prevent food and plaque collecting within these indentations, discouraging cavities from forming.
Fluoride is naturally found in bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and even the ocean. Because of it’s strong cavity-fighting abilities, it’s available in most public water supplies to help clean the general public’s teeth. It’s likely it’s already in your tap water at right at home!
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using toothpaste containing fluoride when brushing your teeth. While fluoridated toothpaste is great at cleaning teeth, it can lead to faint white lines on the teeth, called fluorosis. To prevent fluorosis from occurring from ingesting too much fluoride, make sure your child spits out all of their toothpaste and rinses their mouth thoroughly after brushing their teeth.
Anytime children become involved in sports and other active hobbies, there’s a higher risk of injury, including those within the mouth. The CDC estimates more than 3 million teeth are knocked out per year at youth sporting events!
It’s important for active kids to wear mouth guards when playing sports to cushion blows to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth, or cutting open their lip, tongue, or cheek. There’s a variety of shapes and sizes that mouthguards come in. In fact, some mouthguards are specially designed for specific sports. Come visit our pediatric dentistry to see what mouthguard is right for your child.
While Xylitol may taste similar to traditional sugar, it is a lot healthier for teeth. Recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that helps prevent cavities by limiting the growth of bad bacteria. Fruits, berries, gums and mints are all great sources of Xylitol.
Several studies have recommended consuming anywhere from 4 to 20 grams of Xylitol per day, which should be divided between 3 and 7 consumption periods. An easy way to increase the amount of Xylitol your child consumes is by choosing gum that has the nutrient as an ingredient. These can often be found at your local grocery store!
Sports drinks aren’t as healthy as they may seem. Some even have more sugar than soft drinks! With as many as 19 grams of sugar per serving, sports drinks increase the acidity of your child’s mouth. This will attract tooth enamel destroying bacterial, leading to more cavities.