A Pediatric Dentist Details Proper Oral Hygiene
Tooth decay is one of the most common oral health issues experienced by children. A pediatric dentist can help your child develop a proper oral hygiene routine that may prevent serious consequences, such as problems with speaking, eating, learning, and playing.
Pediatric oral hygiene
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of children have a decayed tooth. Seeing a pediatric dentist for fluoride varnish and dental sealant treatments can help prevent cavities. Proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits can further reduce the incidence of tooth decay.
According to the CDC, 80% of children in the United States start brushing later than recommended. Begin brushing your child's teeth as soon as the first tooth emerges. Cleaning your baby's gums before the eruption of teeth can also improve oral health by reducing bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Begin a proper oral hygiene route for your infant early in life:
- Wipe gums with a clean, soft cloth after your first feeding and before bed
- When teeth emerge, discuss using a fluoride varnish with your pediatric dentist
- Brush teeth two times per day with a small-bristled, soft toothbrush and plain water
- Schedule babies first visit with a pediatric dentist by their first birthday
- Talk to your dentist or doctor before using fluoride toothpaste with a child under the age of two
- Children age two to three may use an amount of fluoride toothpaste equivalent to the size of a grain of rice
Between the ages of three and six, you can begin using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Ingesting excessive amounts of toothpaste can cause fluorosis, which may lead to deposits in the teeth that can cause pits and discoloration. Children may swallow toothpaste, so avoid using too much.
Children should brush twice per day with fluoride toothpaste. Encourage your child to drink tap water that contains fluoride. Talk to your pediatric dentist about applying dental sealants. For children under the age of six, observe them while they brush. Ensure that they do not use more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and instruct them to spit the toothpaste out instead of swallowing it. Assist your children with brushing until they have mastered the skill.
You can find out if your community's tap water contains fluoride by visiting the CDC's My Water's Fluoride website. You may also contact your water utility company to ask for a copy of its most recent consumer confidence report to check the amount of fluoride in your tap water. If your tap water contains less than 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter, talk to your doctor or dentist about supplemental fluoride treatments.
People who are pregnant are more susceptible to cavities and gum disease, which can impact their baby's health. To protect your teeth while pregnant, visit a dentist before you give birth. Brush your teeth two times per day. Floss once per day.
If you experience morning sickness or vomiting at other times during your pregnancy, mix one teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water and use it to rinse your mouth. Rinsing after vomiting washes away stomach acid, which protects your tooth enamel.
Risk factors for pediatric cavities
According to the CDC, poor oral health in children is associated with lower grades in school, difficulty with social relationships, and other difficulties that continue into their adult lives. Oral disease in children is often preventable.
Children have a higher risk of experiencing cavities when family members have had cavities. Children who have special health care needs or wear orthodontics, braces, or oral appliances are also at higher risk of developing cavities. If your child has any of these risk factors, talk to your pediatric dentist about additional steps you can take to improve your child's oral health.
Additionally, certain behaviors put children at a higher risk of developing cavities. Allowing your baby to fall asleep while nursing a bottle can increase risk because it traps liquids with sugar in the mouth. Toddlers who walk around with a sippy cup or bottle that contains juice, milk, or soda are at a higher risk of tooth decay. Kids of all ages who do not eat a healthy diet or consume large amounts of food and drink that contains sugar tend to have more cavities.
The job of protecting your child's oral health begins during pregnancy. Establishing proper oral hygiene early helps prevent problems and increases the chance that children will continue to practice proper oral hygiene into adulthood.
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