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Caring for your child’s teeth is an important aspect of caring for your child. Children are developing cavities at younger and younger ages because of the foods that they eat and poor dental care. Doing one more task before bed or when they get up in the morning can sometimes feel like climbing a mountain to a parent.
But, it is the parent’s responsibility to teach the child how to care for his teeth in the best way possible so they are not faced with cavities, fillings, gum disease and bone loss by the time they are teens.
Caring for your child’s teeth includes dental visits as well. The first dental visit should be when your dentist suggests. There are some experts who recommend the first visit around 6 months and others recommend a visit before the first tooth becomes visible. Just as with older children who are losing their baby teeth and their adult teeth are already formed in the mouth but not erupted, babies also have teeth located within the soft tissue of the mouth. The teeth begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. For this reason we like to do a thorough examination of the mouth and structure before the first teeth come in.
The first several dental visits are usually done with the child in the parents lap so the child gets used to having a stranger hovering over their face with their mouth wide open. Then we will be able to look for early signs of decay and will give parents tips about brushing and eating.
Caring for your child’s teeth begins in infancy. Even before a tooth erupts you can use a damp wash cloth and run it over the gum line at night to prevent the build-up of damaging bacteria. Once a few teeth have come through you can use a soft toothbrush at the end of the day.
Even young children can develop dental cavities because of poor feeding habits. Some children enjoy going to bed with a bottle for comfort, this is not advisable, as it can lead to more dental problems. Unfortunately there is a term that is used for children who develop decay in specific areas around their mouth as a result of sleeping with a bath of bacteria up against their teeth. Dentist call the condition bottle mouth decay. The sugars from the milk or juice will eat away at the enamel and feed the bacteria that normally lives in the mouth. If you have to put your child to bed with a bottle then make it water.
Many people wait too long before caring for their child’s teeth. Teeth seem to be an easy thing to overlook when parents are struggling with time management, dinner, jobs, potty training, and food shopping. It’s only one more thing on the list of things to do. Unfortunately, when you wait too long it is more difficult for the child to develop the habit of brushing his/her teeth well or tolerate flossing. It then takes a bit more time and energy on the part of the parent to engrain these habits into their daily schedule.
It is good to get into the habit of wiping down an infant’s gums after drinking from a bottle or eating foods. Once an infant has teeth come through their gums, it is time to start brushing twice a day: once in the morning and once at night.
Caring for your child’s teeth also includes being assessed for treatment by an orthodontist. An orthodontist is a specialized dentist who deals with the placement and manipulation of braces and appliances. We can advise you on this if your child needs braces.
We may also recommend fluoride treatments, which will prevent tooth decay.