Your child’s first teeth will appear at about six months of age. Keeping those teeth decay free and healthy is a life-long habit that starts when your child is an infant. Here are several tips and recommendations to help keep those precious baby and permanent teeth healthy for a lifetime.
Brush, brush, brush!
Even those first adorable lower front teeth need to be brushed as soon as they appear. Use a soft brush and clean them twice a day. A simple way to begin is to brush them when your baby is on the changing table when getting dressed for the day and after bath time.
Don’t worry about using any toothpaste in the beginning; later on you can use a tiny amount of children’s toothpaste. Remember that at first your child will most likely swallow any toothpaste on the brush, so use a tiny amount until they learn to spit it out. It is also a good idea to begin flossing when your child has their baby molars in, between 12 and 24 months.
Dental decay can be painful and very destructive to teeth, but it’s easily preventable. Sugars and an acid environment in the mouth are what cause teeth to decay. Simply stated, certain bacteria in our mouths use the sugar in foods we eat and beverages we drink to produce acid. It is that acid that makes enamel soft and eventually causes decay.
The important fact to remember is this: It is how often we eat sweets that matters most, not how much. For example: Two people each drink a can of sugary cola. One finishes it all in 15 minutes, the other sips on it all afternoon. Even though they each drink the same amount of sugary drink, the person that sipped on it all afternoon would have several hours of decay activity on their teeth, while the other would only have about 45 minutes of acid activity. Each consumed the same amount of sugar, but experienced very different amount of decay activity.
Given that children tend to be snackers, it’s important to limit sugary snacks and drinks during the day. Limit sweets to mealtimes and do not allow them at snack time. That way it is easier to control how often sugar is consumed during the day.
Visit the Dentist
We love children here, and recommend their first check-up happen when they are three years-old. It is important to establish a foundation of trust and positive experience with the dentist, so we work to keep appointments short and fun for our littlest patients.
We count their teeth, brush them with our electric toothbrush and they always get a tooth brushing lesson with their new toothbrush. When children are able, we add x-rays to check for decay between their back teeth, and apply fluoride varnish to keep teeth strong.
Fluoride makes teeth stronger. First, fluoride in the diet makes forming teeth decay resistant or “harder”, and is the single most effective way to prevent decay in teeth. City water supplies add fluoride to the water in tiny concentrations since it takes very little fluoride in children’s bodies to change how their teeth are formed. If you don’t have city water, ask us how to check your water supply and possibly add fluoride vitamins to your children’s diet. Fluoride is also added to toothpaste, and in treatments here at our office to help make teeth harder on the surface. In a way it’s like daily “vitamins” for your teeth, making them less likely to break down from the acids that form when sugar is consumed.