During the month of February the American Dental Association celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long national health observance reinforces the importance of oral health in children as well as helping parents with tips to keep their child’s smile on track! At Bear Coast Dentistry, our dentist and staff are taking this opportunity to share oral health tips and raise awareness of the importance of pediatric dental care at an early age.
YOUR CHILD’S TEETH
Teeth help your child chew and speak. Baby teeth also hold a spot for permanent teeth to come in.
Teething babies may be fussy, drool and want to chew. If you want to let your child chew on a teething ring, go for one that is hard and solid.
Steer clear of teething products that have benzocaine in them. The US Food and Drug Administration advises against benzocaine use due to potential illness and may even cause death.
Too reduce your child’s risk of cavities, help him or her
- Brush twice a day with a pea sized amount of fluoride containing tooth paste
- Use Fluoride Varnish applications at dental checkup visits
- Limit processed sugary snacks and drinks
Clean your baby’s gums daily. Until those teeth come in gently wipe a damp washcloth over the gums to clear away harmful bacteria after each feeding.
We advise to start brushing your child’s teeth twice a day when the first tooth comes in. Make sure to use an infant toothbrush as adult brush heads are too large for their tiny mouths.
For children under 2 years, use not more than a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Children ages 2-6 should use a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
We recommend to brush younger children’s teeth for them. Children younger than 6 years old can handle toothbrushing themselves, but supervision is advised as they are more likely to swallow toothpaste.
While daily brushing is an important part of a child’s oral hygiene routine, bacteria that causes tooth decay can still linger between teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach. That’s why it’s so important to help your kids incorporate flossing in their daily routine.
Begin flossing between teeth once your child’s teeth touch.
Fluoride helps to strengthen the other layer of teeth against cavities. Use of fluoridated toothpaste is 1 way to take advantage of fluoride’s benefits. Having your child drink fluoridated water is good, too. Fluoridated water is public water with enough fluoride to help keep teeth healthy. Sometimes some areas do not have access to fluoridated water and you may want to add fluoride tablets or drops to your water. Fluoride varnish applications at dental check-up appointments is another way to provide fluoride for your child’s teeth.
SUGAR AND CAVITIES
Teeth are covered with a thin sticky film of bacteria called BIOFILM, which produces acid when exposed to sugar. These acids are what cause cavities.
One significant oral health risk for infants and young children under the age of 1 is from baby bottle tooth decay. This occurs when your child consumes sugary liquid and bacteria in their mouth consume the sugar and produce acid. This acid attacks the enamel on baby teeth can trigger tooth decay after continued exposure. Drinks are the largest source of sugar in the US diet. Liquids that contribute to this baby bottle tooth decay include milk, formula, fruit juice, soda and any other artificially sweetened drinks. If your child needs to sleep with a bottle, water is the safest option without any risk. If feeding a child during the night and brushing their teeth is not possible, Bear Coast Dentistry recommends to use a wet washcloth to wipe the surfaces of the teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests avoiding juice for the first year of life.
VISIT THE DENTIST
Take your baby to see your dentist at Bear Coast Dentistry sometime after the first tooth comes in, but before his or her first birthday.
The dentist may
- Perform an oral examination
- Assess your child’s risk of tooth decay
- Check to see that the teeth are developing on schedule
- Identify whether any habits like thumb sucking or pacifier use are affecting your child’s oral development
Bear Coast Dentistry advises parents to take care of your child’s teeth from the time the first tooth comes in to help get him or her started on the path to good oral health.
Call 949-348-0880 to schedule your child’s visit today!
Information reprinted from February 2019 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association