6 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy and Clean
By Space Coast Daily // October 4, 2021
One of the greatest joys as a parent is seeing your child grow up with bright white teeth. Silly as it may sound, this is one reason why so many adults are afraid to eat anything besides soft foods when their teeth are hurting. They don’t want to ruin those beautiful pearly whites.
Unfortunately for our children, cavities now affect nearly half of all kids during their primary and adolescent years and can result in serious health problems if left untreated.
The good news: you can take steps to make sure your child doesn’t suffer from tooth decay – or any other type of dental problem – growing up. Therefore, here are 6 easy ways to help keep your little one’s smile healthy and strong
You’ve heard it a hundred times, and that’s because it works: brushing your child’s teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste is vital to keeping his or her smile strong and healthy throughout childhood.
One of the first things that experts from Palmetto Kids orthodontics recommend is that parents begin practicing good oral care habits when children are still babies by wiping their gums after feedings using a clean, damp washcloth. This reduces bacteria in the mouth which helps to prevent cavities from forming in baby teeth.
Once those pearly whites come in, however, you’ll need to upgrade to a proper toothbrush and gentle non-fluoride toothpaste. Incorporate brushing into your child’s morning and bedtime routine by creating a fun game out of it or allowing them to brush along with you for part of the time.
Take care of baby teeth
Despite being called “baby teeth,” these little chompers are just as important for your child’s future as adult ones. When taken care of properly, they help create the space needed for permanent teeth to grow in later on. Be sure to brush them regularly and take your child to the dentist by age one. If baby teeth are lost too early or need to be pulled out because of deep decay, problems can occur down the road with adult tooth growth.
Also, be aware that baby teeth are essential for eating and speech development. If your child’s primary or permanent teeth need to be removed, orthodontics may recommend installing a bridge, even if the child is still an infant.
The bridge will help restore the smile to its original shape by filling in gaps where teeth are missing, while also maintaining the proper spacing needed for permanent teeth.
Limit snacking on sugar-laden foods and drinks
We all crave a sweet snack from time to time, but it’s important to limit these types of treats for young children. This is especially true if they take a while to eat them because the longer candy or soda stays in the mouth, the more cavities form.
Instead, go for healthy options such as fruit snacks or granola bars which parents can pack into lunches that their kids will look forward to eating. You should also limit how often sugar-sweetened drinks are consumed because children’s developing teeth are more susceptible to dental problems.
In addition to this, you can make a list of your child’s favorite snacks and then swap them for healthier alternatives. For example, frozen grapes are a great way to still give kids the sweet treat they enjoy without ruining their teeth in the process.
They might take some getting used to, but soon your little one will be able to chow down on them without even realizing what they are.
Have a dentist do an evaluation
Even though your child’s first dental visit may not happen until the age of one, be sure to introduce him or her to a dentist soon after. That way, the pediatric office can become a familiar environment and schedule for kids when they’re older instead of something they dread going to.
During this time, you’ll also want to evaluate your child’s teeth yourself. Look out for any signs of spacing problems or gaps between teeth that could cause overcrowding when permanent ones come in.
Also check for symptoms of decay by looking at the gums surrounding baby teeth for swelling, redness, or tenderness. These can indicate tooth infection so call your dentist if you find anything abnormal about your little one’s pearly whites.
Start flossing at an early age
Even though your child may not have any teeth to floss yet, it’s never too early to start. Flossing is an important part of a child’s dental health that can help remove bits of food that baby teeth leave behind and prevent the development of plaque and tartar. It is recommended that children as young as three learn how to floss properly by using a very fine strand that they can’t snap easily in half.
Also, consider purchasing a water jet or other type of flosser for kids instead of simply handing them a piece of string with a handle attached to one end. These tools are more effective at getting rid of harmful particles trapped between teeth and under gums because they shoot out a steady stream of water aimed at dislodging debris from every crevice.
Prevent your kids from thumb sucking or pacifier use
It’s always fun to see your baby suck on their fingers, but teaching them how to stop doing this is important long-term. Thumb sucking can lead to dental problems down the road if it continues past an age where children naturally lose their teeth.
There are also other risks involved with the habit such as altered teeth alignment and speech difficulties because of slack muscles in the mouth. The same goes for using pacifiers since they come with many of the same potential side effects, so be sure to discourage use immediately after permanent teeth start coming in.
Thumb sucking isn’t the only thing that causes tooth issues over time though; tongue thrusting should also be stopped when possible. This is a condition where children push their tongues between their teeth and gums to help dislodge food particles. If it becomes excessive, this can lead to the development of crooked teeth and crowded mouths as well.
In conclusion, keeping your child’s teeth clean and healthy is fairly easy, but it does take some effort. Not only do you need to implement a good dental care regime at home, but you should also make sure your little one gets used to seeing a dentist regularly. By following the advice in this article, your little one will be able to smile confidently for years to come.