There are several steps you can take to ensure the oral health of your children. Here are some of the most important:
Begin Early: Tooth decay can begin occurring from the time the first baby teeth begin to come in. Typically, this process starts at around 6 months of age and by age 3; most kids have a full set of (roughly 20) baby teeth. Before the first tooth arrives, clean the gums regularly by wiping them with a moist washcloth or gauze pad. When the first teeth come in, brush them twice a day with a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste; about the size of a grain of rice.
Brushing during Ages 3-6: Once your child has his/her full set of baby teeth, you can increase to about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for brushing. At this point, the child should be learning to brush on their own. However, make sure to supervise them to ensure they are not swallowing any of the toothpaste. When your child’s teeth start touching each other, begin flossing regularly.
Consider Fluoride Supplements: Fluoride is a valuable mineral found naturally in numerous water sources such as lakes, rivers, and oceans. Fluoride helps make tooth enamel resistant to decay, making teeth healthier and stronger. Unfortunately, many infants and toddlers do not receive a sufficient amount of fluoride in their diets. Most bottled water does not contain any, and it is not always found in the community water supply. Speak with your dentist about whether or not your child is receiving enough fluoride. If not, consider adding a kid-friendly supplement.
When to Start Visiting the Dentist: You should begin taking your child to the dentist about the time the first tooth comes in, which (as mentioned earlier) is about the age of 6 months. During the initial visits, the dentist mostly performs oral examinations and checks the mouth for injuries, cavities and other issues. This is also the time for your child to become acclimated to dental visits. The goal is to make this a positive experience for your child, so they will not be anxious about return visits. Toward that end, it is important to do everything possible to make your child comfortable so he/she can look forward to having fun at the dental office.