In February, the American Dental Association celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long health initiative reinforces the importance of oral health in children and provides helpful tips for parents. At Temple Family Dentistry, we are taking this opportunity to discuss the importance of pediatric dental care from an early age.
Developing good oral hygiene is the first line of defense against many common dental issues such as plaque, gingivitis, and cavities. It is no doubt that, in terms of mouth care, dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the US. According to the CDC, about 20% of children aged 5 to 11 have at least one decayed tooth that has been left untreated. When left untreated, dental decay leads to pain and infections that cause issues with eating, speaking, and overall health.
Oral health care should begin with the very first tooth that your baby develops. Even though these teeth will eventually fall out, baby teeth hold space for your child’s permanent ones. Because of this, it is important that your child has a healthy mouth when they arrive. Without the proper care, even baby teeth can decay, resulting in problems in the future.
Ultimately, it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents should introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life—even as early as infancy. Although your child may be too young to visit a dentist office, their dental hygiene now will matter later on. The American Dental Association provides some tips on proper children’s dental health:
- Clean your infant’s gums with a moist gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding.
- Once your child’s teeth start to come in, gently brush their teeth with a child-sized brush and a very small amount of toothpaste. Do this until age 3.
- For children age 3 to 6, brush their teeth twice daily with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, making sure they spit it out.
- Until you are comfortable that your child can brush on their own, continue to brush their teeth twice daily yourself. When your child has teeth that touch each other, you should begin flossing.
- Avoid sugary drinks and foods, especially between meals, which promote decay and cause enamel damage.
- Encourage increased water intake throughout the day to help neutralize acids that can cause cavities.
Finally, one of the most important ways to maintain pediatric dental care is to schedule regular check-ups at a dentist office. Choose a pediatric dentist who understands the unique development of children’s teeth and gums. During these visits, the dentist can provide a thorough cleaning and evaluation as well as discuss cleaning techniques to help keep your child’s teeth cavity-free.
If you have any further questions about children’s dental health or to schedule an appointment, please contact us today. At Temple Family Dentistry we have the experience and commitment to help parents and their children maintain proper oral hygiene.