Depending on the pediatrician, recommendations of when to see a dentist, as well as how to best care for your child’s teeth before they formally visit the dentist, vary. Some parents may shrug oral hygiene off as something that will take care of itself or something to worry about later – that surely nothing that bad could happen to little baby teeth. However, nothing could be further from the truth. If not taken care of, children can end up with a mouth full of cavities in their baby teeth which will in turn affect the health of their adult teeth that begin to come in around the age of six.
What many parents fail to realize is proper dental health begins as soon as they have get teeth. If those habits of good dental health are ingrained early enough, children have a much greater chance of having beautiful, healthy smiles. Part of parents understanding the importance of dental health is having this message being delivered by their pediatrician. According to the American Dental Association, there is more of an effort being made for a partnership in overall health (including dental health) between pediatricians and dentists. Based on the 2014 United States Preventative Services Task Force, the new recommendation for fluoride varnish for instance, is to have medical providers apply fluoride to primary teeth from the first emergence of a tooth until the age of five.
Even with this strengthened medical-dental partnership, getting your little ones comfortable with the dentist is an excellent idea.
(Insert quote of how one of dentists helps make a dentist visit fun/not scary)
Even with the fluoride treatments and check ups that are available, how can parents adequately care for their children’s oral health at home?
• Be sure to have your children see you practice responsible oral health regimines – have them watch you floss and brush your teeth. Also, make it clear that you do it multiple times a day.
• Make teeth brushing fun for your kids while helping them learn proper techniques. There are plenty of kid-specific tooth brushes and toothpastes to choose from. There are also little songs or competitions that you can do together in the morning and night.
• Begin to teach your children about the effects certain foods and drinks can have on their teeth – there are different kinds of hands on experiments you can do at home to show how surfaces can get stained or eroded.
• Try to prevent sugary snacks in the evening right before bedtime – even if you’re brushing afterwards.
• When brushing, talk with your pediatrician and dentist about their recommended brands/amounts for your child’s specific situation. In most cases starting at the age of two, kids can start brushing with children’s toothpaste, using an amount smaller than a pea. Before two, still help your kids brush with water.
• Also, be sure to keep an eye of the state of your toothbrush and be prepared to replace every couple of months – a worn brush will not clean teeth.