As a pediatric dentist in Hazel Dell, our team wants parents to understand that their child’s baby teeth become at risk for the effects of tooth decay once the first begin to appear – which typically occurs between the ages of 6 months to 1 year. When tooth decay occurs in babies and toddlers, it’s typically referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. In most cases, the decay affects a child’s upper front teeth, but other teeth can also be impacted. In some extreme cases, children experience such severe decay that the teeth cannot be saved and must be removed.
Fortunately for parents, you can help prevent tooth decay and protect your child’s oral health. Here are a few tips parents can use to help protect their child’s smile.
Oral Hygiene for Kids
Protecting a child’s oral health means practicing quality oral hygiene at home from the very beginning. This will help create a solid foundation for a child’s oral development.
Start by cleaning your baby’s mouth immediately after the first few days following birth. Using a clean and moist washcloth or gauze pad, gently wipe your baby’s gums after each feeding. Once teeth begin to appear, tooth decay can immediately start to occur. That means you need to clean your baby’s newly formed teeth from the very beginning to prevent decay.
A baby’s four front teeth will usually begin to emerge through the gum line at around 6 months. However, some kids don’t start developing teeth until anywhere from between 12 to 14 months. No matter at what age your child first begins to develop teeth, it’s important to keep in mind the need for quality oral hygiene.
For kids under the age of three, parents should begin brushing their teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Until a child learns not to swallow during brushing, only use a smear of toothpaste. It’s also important that parents use an age appropriate toothbrush that’s specially designed to meet the needs of their child. Trying to use a brush that’s either too large or small for a child’s mouth can make brushing uncomfortable or ineffective. When a child has two teeth that touch, the time has come to start flossing as well.
For kids between the ages of 3 to 6, parents can begin to use a slightly larger, pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Just as with an adult, parents need to brush their kids’ teeth once in the morning and again before bed. Parents should make sure to remind their kids not to swallow the toothpaste during brushing. While fluoride is harmless to adolescents and adults, over exposure to fluoride during the early stage of development can cause fluorosis, a condition that can permanently stain a child’s teeth.
Once a child develops the necessary manual dexterity and attention to detail needed to properly brush, parents can allow their kids to take over their own oral hygiene duties. It’s important that parents teach their kids proper brushing and flossing technique, and to provide some supervision and instruction when needed.
Your Pediatric Dentist in Hazel Dell can Help
Protecting your child’s oral health requires laying the foundation for quality oral hygiene from a young age. By helping to protect the development of your child’s teeth from a young age, you can successfully avoid the potential problems tooth decay can cause that could ruin a beautiful smile.
At Hazel Dell Dentistry 4 Children, Dr. Lubisich is here to help protect the oral health of all our patients. From dental exams that can spot the early signs of decay to providing recommendations about braces and a child’s oral health development, we’re are here to help. After all, there’s no reason a great looking smile can’t last for a lifetime.