The Importance of Dental Care for Kids
Starts even before you see the first tooth
Who can resist a baby’s gummy smile? What’s even cuter to us here at Golf Links Dental is the smile when those first few teeth pop through. However, with those teeth come new responsibility, and that falls on mom and dad (or grandparents, caregivers, aunts, uncles, siblings…) in the early years. So, to make sure you are providing the best oral care for your child, we’ve put together some info and tips to point you in the right direction.
Baby’s First Dental Visit
Dr. Manjula Duhan often gets asked, “But my baby’s teeth eventually fall out, why do I need to bring her to the dentist so young?”
The truth is that the health of your child’s permanent teeth is inherently tied to the health of their baby teeth. Any decay or bacteria that live on your child’s baby teeth, can be transferred through the gums and root systems to the waiting adult teeth, causing damage before they even erupt. Plus, baby teeth also hold space in the jaws for those permanent teeth; so, if a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent tooth can drift into the empty space making it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in.
So much is riding on effective early dental care. If you don’t treat baby teeth properly, you could be forever changing the course of their permanent teeth and causing a lifetime of additional dental treatments.
Dental care for kids – we recommend bringing your child for their first visit when their first teeth are erupting or by age one. This will allow our professional and gentle dental team to get an early look at your child’s mouth to ensure everything is progressing as it should. It also allows our team to identify, and address, any potential issues before they become harmful.
Good Oral Hygiene Habits Start Young
It’s a family-affair when it comes to looking after your child’s first teeth and it actually starts before the teeth even erupt. It is important to note that your child has a full set of 20 teeth lurking below the gums from birth. It just takes typically six to 12 months before they erupt through the gums. So, taking care of the gums is the first step in ensuring a healthy start. Let’s look at what else you can do at home to give your child a head start to a strong dental future:
- Be a good role model. From the early stages, invite your child into the bathroom while you care for your teeth. Monkey see, monkey do…
- Use the right tools. You will likely start with a small silicone “gum cleaner” or a small wash cloth or gauze to rub the gums twice daily. As your child grows, so do their tools. What doesn’t change is the need for very soft-bristled brushes to avoid over-brushing the gums and tooth surface. As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, you’ll want to introduce floss (we can hear the groans already). Floss really does help protect against bacteria that can’t be reached with a toothbrush and it is an important step to learn. If you want to use an electric toothbrush, discuss the best type for your child’s teeth with your dentist.
- Avoid Dangerous Habits. Hopefully you know to avoid too much sugar. Like adults, too much sugar can lead to tooth decay. But, did you know that you should never put your child to bed with a bottle that contains milk or fruit juice? Those sugars will linger on your child’s teeth as they sleep causing damage that you can’t even see.
- Make changes as needed. As your child grows, their dental needs change. For example, kids under the age of 3 should not use a fluoride toothpaste, or if it does contain fluoride, use just the smallest amount. From 3 to 6 years of age, you’ll want to switch to a fluoride toothpaste, but again, no more than a pea-sized amount and remind them not to swallow the paste. The size of the toothbrush head will change as well and grow with your child’s mouth.
- Stay involved. Until you are comfortable that your child can brush effectively on his or her own, continue to help them brush their teeth morning and night. For some parents this could be well into the school-aged years, but it’s important.
Dental Care for Kids
If you have any tips that you have found helpful in teaching your kids good dental habits, let us know. We are always on the lookout for ways in which we can make dental care even more fun!
If you want a team that cares about your dental health as much as you do, give Golf Links Dental a call at 905.648.9598. We are a family dental practice in Ancaster that treats people of all ages. We see patients from in and around Ancaster and Hamilton. If you are looking for a new family dentist, we would love to see you.