The brushing and flossing of teeth might be the first things to come to mind related to “dental care,” but many other factors contribute to a healthy mouth.
Diet: Feed your child a nutrient-rich diet. Avoid giving your child sugary drinks; not only does sugar negatively affect overall health, bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar particles. For the same reason, avoid constant snacking. Each time your child ingests food, the bacteria receive a fresh food source so they can continue multiplying. The acids that the bacteria produce can erode gum tissue, tooth enamel, and even bone.
Oral habits: Childhood habits such as thumb sucking and using pacifiers can affect teeth alignment. An orthodontically correct pacifier can reduce the risk of deformities such as narrow roof arches or crowded teeth. For thumb sucking cessation, the pediatric dentist can offer strategies.
General oral hygiene: When a small child drops a pacifier or teething toy, a parent might clean the object by sucking on it. Although people might think that this practice contributes to a h2er immune system, the transmission of harmful oral bacteria could have negative effects on the child’s oral health, increasing the risks of cavities and tooth decay. Use warm water to rinse pacifiers and teething toys.
Sippy cup use: For the transition between drinking from baby bottles to drinking from adult drinking glasses, sippy cups serve a laudable purpose. They can have unfortunate consequences for dental health, however, when small amounts of sugary liquid constantly swill through a child’s mouth. The acid production unrelentingly intrudes into tooth enamel. Parents should phase out using sippy cups when the child is around one year old, or soon thereafter—as soon as the child has developed the motor skills for holding a drinking glass. Sippy cup cessation should roughly coincide with a child’s first pediatric dental visit.
Brushing: As a parent, you should help your child brush at least twice each day with a soft-bristled brush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. For a baby, you should rub the gums with a clean cloth after each time the baby feeds. When your child reaches seven years of age and can physically reach all areas of the mouth with the toothbrush, you can transition the child into brushing independently. Always purchase ADA-approved toothpaste (non-fluoridated for those younger than two, and fluoridated for those older).
Flossing: The areas between teeth are more conducive to cavities or tooth decay, so helping your child floss is critical. The pediatric dentist can teach you about the correct position for the head during flossing, and offer ways to help your child think of flossing as fun.
Fluoride: The balance of fluoride is very important to dental health. Not enough fluoride can result in tooth decay. Excessive fluoride causes fluorosis, with white specks appearing on the permanent teeth. An appropriate amount of fluoride can prevent mineral loss while promoting tooth enamel remineralization. As part of an examination, the pediatric dentist determines the child’s current fluoride intake level and provide guidance, including supplements if necessary.