The health of your child’s teeth and gums depends on four key factors:
- At home care and hygiene
- Regular dental checkups and immediate dental visits if a problem develops
- Diet and nutrition
Since genetics are beyond anyone’s control, it’s important to pay attention to the other three factors influencing your kids’ dental health.
Parents at our DFW dental office often ask us for guidelines for creating and maintaining their children’s oral health. Here are some tips.
At Home Dental Care
Regular brushing is critical, even for young children.
- Brush every night at bedtime, after meals and after sugary snacks or drinks.
- Use a soft bristle brush and kid’s toothpaste — a pea-size amount for young children.
- Position the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums
- Gently brush in a circular motion.
- Brush outer, inner and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
- Use the tip of the brush for inner surfaces of front teeth.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every couple of months.
As the child’s mouth fills with more teeth, flossing becomes important.
- Wind 18 inches of floss around the middle finger of both hands, mostly on one finger. As the floss is used, unwind a clean section from one finger and wind the used section around the other finger.
- Using your thumbs and forefingers, guide the floss between the teeth. Gently work the floss between two teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape against each tooth and clean under the gum line.
- Slide the floss up and down the sides of the teeth. Repeat the process for each tooth.
- If you the spacing of the teeth makes using dental floss difficult, try other types of cleaners like interdental brushes or picks. Ask Dr. Deb or one of the hygienists to how to use them properly.
Regular Dental Checkups
- Twice yearly visits to the dentist are advised for preventing problems or catching any developing problems as early as possible. Dr. Deb’s kids dental checkups are very thorough and cover teeth, gums, roots, breathing concerns, speech concerns, tooth development and placement, bite, jaw, etc., as well as preventative measures such as fluoride treatments for kids and/or dental sealants if indicated.
- If there is any indication of a problem, such as a noticeable sensitivity to hot or cold, complaining of a tooth ache, a discomfort reaction to sweets — or you notice that your child’s teeth are particularly ridged or grooved, please bring your child in as soon as possible. Your kid’s dental health depends on quick treatment for problems because dental problems always get worse over time.
Diet and Nutrition
- Milk and other foods rich in calcium do, indeed, help building strong teeth and bones
- A balanced diet, rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein makes for a healthy child and a healthy mouth. Kids won’t crave sugar unless you feed it to them. Cheese, nuts, fruit, vegetables and whole grain snacks are much better alternatives.
- Avoiding sugary foods is one of the most important things you can do for your kids dental health. Occasional treats are fine, but are much better eaten with a meal than by themselves. The shorter time in the mouth the better, so avoid sticky candies, suckers or sugared gum. The longer the sugar is in contact with the tooth, the more acid it produces, and therefore the more decay. A recent statistic shows that for every bit or sip of a sugared food or drink, there is about 20 minutes of acid production. Have your child brush after eating sugar in any case — either with meals or by itself.
Following these guidelines will help maintain your kids dental health and help them develop good oral hygiene habits.