Each year in February, the American Dental Association marks National Children’s Dental Health Month as a way to boost awareness of the importance of imparting solid oral hygiene habits at the earliest age and its impact on the lifelong health of teeth and gums. To that end, it makes sense to review some of the best tips when it comes to keeping kids’ teeth in top condition right from the start.
Oral Hygiene for Babies
The right time to begin cleaning a baby’s teeth is as soon as they begin erupting. Establishing good oral hygiene practices as early as possible is a great way to build beneficial habits. A baby tooth that has not completely emerged from the gum line can simply be cleaned with a damp cloth after meals. Teeth that are fully in place need to be brushed two times a day using a child-sized brush with soft bristles and a tiny amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste. The key is to ensure that children do not swallow large quantities of fluoride while taking full advantage of its anti-cavity properties.
Are Cavities Possible in Babies?
Babies are indeed vulnerable to cavities, particularly if they are given a bottle with anything other than water to help them drift off to sleep. Infant formula, milk, and other beverages feature sugars that must never be allowed to sit on or near the child’s teeth as they sleep, as this is a gateway to decay. Juices are even worse choices, as they contain sugar as well as acids that create a greater risk of cavity development.
Are Sweets Ever Appropriate for Young Children?
Though steering clear of sugary treats altogether would certainly the best option in terms of maintaining oral health, that is not a realistic option for most families. As such, if sugary items are going to be permitted on occasion, it is best that they be consumed right after mealtime and not as a snack in between. When it comes to sodas, abstinence really is the best policy, given the extremely detrimental effect they have on dental health.
When Should a Child’s First Dental Appointment Take Place?
According to many experts in the dental field, a first dental appointment should be scheduled before a child turns one. This is true even though there are not likely to be many teeth present in the youngster’s mouth just yet. There are many things that a dental practitioner can do at such a visit, however, that can begin the process of establishing good habits. Giving a child the chance to sit in the dental chair and become familiar and comfortable with the office is a great way to build confidence for cleaning and exam appointments in the future. These visits are also useful for parents who may have questions about their child’s dental care needs and wish to receive instruction on how best to assist with brushing and flossing at home.
To learn more about oral health and dental hygiene for kids or to schedule an appointment for your little one, contact the team at Greater Houston Pediatric Dentistry today.