Oral Care Tips From a Pediatric Dentist
When it comes to your children, every good parent knows it’s better to be proactive than reactive. We caution our kids against climbing the next-door neighbor’s big elm tree, limiting screen time in the hopes of encouraging more face-to-face interaction, and we try to pay attention to what they put in their mouths to give them a better chance at good oral health and to avoid cavities. To add to your arsenal of oral care tips, here are some secrets from a pediatric dentist.
Your oral health affects your kids.
Any parent will tell you that kids love to imitate, whether it’s trying to bake like mommy or using that word daddy says when things don’t go according to plan. This lovable trait comes in pretty handy when they’re trying to learn something new like brushing their teeth.
Your toddler can’t resist watching a grown-up do a grown-up thing then trying to imitate you. This means if you have great oral hygiene, your child will too. As wonderful as it would be to have two minutes to yourself to brush your teeth, having your kid there plays a big role in influencing their oral health in the long run.
Parental supervision of dental habits is OK at any age.
You may not be a dental expert, but you’re an expert on what counts: your child. Even if your kids are tweens and now literally look down on you, you’re still the Chief Commander of Ouchies and Boo-Boos. Check on their dental habits from time to time.
We all know how kids are prone to forgetfulness. Remind them to put on mouth guards when playing contact sports like skiing or baseball. Make sure they don’t miss dental appointments even if they say everything is fine. Drs. Day and Cooper are experts at identifying pediatric oral health issues before they become severe.
Oral health starts at breastfeeding age.
Raise your virtual hand if you never got cavities or plaque as a kid? Tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States. The good news is there are ways to prevent it.
Even before your baby’s first pearly white pops through the gumline, there are things you can do to encourage the growth of healthy teeth. Start by using a damp cloth to gently wipe their gums with a single finger after every feeding. This helps remove any residual milk or formula and keeps your infant’s mouth healthy.
Turn brushing into a bonding experience.
Two minutes is a relatively short amount of time. But for parents and caretakers, it can seem like a lifetime when you’re wrangling a toddler and trying to get them to go “Ahh.” To help make such a mundane task a fun activity, the American Dental Association recommends you turn tooth-brushing into a bonding experience.
Start off with two-minute brushing tunes, and as you sing along, ask your child to roar like a lion so you can get the brush to the teeth at the back of their mouth. If that doesn’t work, consider buying them a “dummy” toothbrush so your bundle of joy can hold on to the spare while you’re brushing their teeth.
Reward good brushing sessions with something your child loves. Does she/he like to read? Let them pick out their favorite bedtime story. Every child is different; sometimes a big smile and an “I’m so proud of you” followed by a high five also does the trick.
Candy isn’t the only tooth enemy of oral health.
We’ve all had candy snatched from our hands and watched our sweets get hidden away in the really high shelves so we don’t eat too much and get dental caries. Now that you’re all grown up, Drs. Cooper and Day would like to let you in on a little secret: candy isn’t the only tooth enemy.
Sure, it’s easy to buy into the myth that candy is the main culprit of cavities galore, but it’s actually the frequency with which your child consumes sugar as well as their brushing habits that have an even greater impact on oral health. So we can’t, in good conscience, put all the blame on candy. Snacks like crackers, potato chips, popcorn, and other starchy foods can also increase the likelihood of developing cavities.
Absence always makes the heart grow fonder. Rather than restricting your child’s diet, put limitations on the number of times they can have their favorite snack. That way, they’ll have sugar in one sitting and you can help them brush their teeth right afterward.
Bring your kids early enough.
Nowadays, infants see so many different medical practitioners during their first few years, it can be easy for some appointments to fall through the cracks. It also doesn’t help that the rules on when to bring your child to their first dental appointment are loosely defined and murky at best. Nonetheless, Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry would like to attempt to clear the air.
Drs. Day and Cooper have found that children who have their first appointment by 12 months of age or within six months of the first tooth coming in end up being more comfortable around dentists in later years.
At Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry, we work with parents and children to make appointments as painless and fun as possible. Our entire team understands the unique needs of children and how important it is to make visiting the dentist a positive experience. For a smile checkup and to get personalized guidance from a dentist for kids, schedule your child’s next pediatric dentist visit today.