Every parent understands that at some point, they’re going to have to care for their son or daughter’s teeth. It’s an integral part of helping our children stay healthy. Keeping our kid’s pearly whites in top-notch condition involves a kid-friendly toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and a tooth-healthy diet. What parents often forget, though, is that their child requires healthy gums as well if they want them to maintain a good oral health standing. If you’re not in the loop, no worries. Allow us to tell you six easy ways to get your toddler healthy gums.
#1 Wipe Your Baby’s Gums.
Before your child officially enters toddlerhood, you should have already been wiping down your infant’s gums with clean gauze or a washcloth multiple times a day. This includes once in the morning, after feedings, and once before bed. Yes, this is true even if your child doesn’t yet have any sign of a tooth in their mouth.
But if you skipped that process completely, it’s not too late. Even as your child graduates to toddlerhood, it’s not a bad idea to continue wiping down their gums a few times a day. This not only keeps their gums cleaner, but the massaging and light pressure that occurs during cleaning your child’s gums can help stimulate healthy tooth growth. Every parent wants a positive dental experience for their son or daughter!
#2 Don’t Forget to Brush Your Toddler’s Gums, Too.
As your kiddo gets their very first tooth, it’s time to get a kid-friendly toothbrush and a little fluoride toothpaste ready. Like with adults, brushing your toddler’s teeth twice a day is important. A tiny little dab of toothpaste per brushing session should do just fine. And, until they turn the age of three, you don’t really need to have your child rinsing and spitting just yet. So, the tooth-brushing process for your toddler isn’t all that complex.
However, there is something you should know. Parents often think all they have to do is brush whatever tooth surface their little one has at this point. But it’s also imperative for parents to brush their tot’s soft, pink gum tissue. Bacteria doesn’t just love teeth but also the gums. Failure to tend to the gums while brushing can lead to receding gum tissue, bleeding gums, and the potential for gum disease or cavities to develop in the future.
#3 Break Out the Floss.
When your baby gets their first, single tooth, there’s really no way you can help them floss. The entire point of floss is to be able to get in between the tight crevices of the teeth to remove excess bacteria and debris that’s normally difficult to get to. Although, once your son or daughter begins to develop more teeth, they’ll eventually have these crevices that need to be cleaned that a toothbrush can’t help them with.
When the latter begins to occur, then, yes, parents: you need to buy your toddler some floss. For the first few years or so, you’ll be doing the flossing for them. It’s not until your child develops stronger fine motor skills that they’ll be able to get the concept of flossing down pat. But as they do begin to learn (you’re welcome to teach them while they’re still a toddler), it’d be a good idea to consider getting them disposable, kid-friendly flosser picks to make the act of flossing easier and less complicated. In the meantime, though, you’re going to want to be involved in this daily activity and intervene when necessary.
#4 Say No to Bottles at Bedtime.
Let’s face it, as much as we love our children, we want them to get in as many naps as possible. For us, this means getting a break ourselves and lessening the chances of having to deal with a cranky toddler. Not to mention, sleep is good for children, their growing bodies, and developing brains.
One mistake many parents make, however, is putting their little one to bed with a bottle. Parents think that filling up their child on milk or juice is the perfect way to get them to conk out as soon as possible. While it might work, this habit can be detrimental to your son or daughter’s oral health. It certainly wouldn’t give your toddler healthy gums, either. Who would have thought?
Even the natural sugars found in juice or breast milk, if they have plenty of time to sit and linger in the mouth, can alter the health of your little one’s gums (and teeth). If you don’t want them to experience cavities and other oral health problems in the near future, your best bet is to avoid milk, juice, and other drinks other than water at bedtime. Or, if you must feed them prior to bed, give them what they need and then clean their gums and teeth prior to putting them down for bed.
#5 Be Mindful of How Much Sugar You Give Your Child.
Toddlers love sugar. Watching videos online of children eating their very first bite of something sweet just goes to show just how tasty all kids find sugar. While most parents are going to at some point introduce sugar into their kiddo’s life, parents have to be careful as to not detract their kid away from healthy foods. Moderation is everything.
It doesn’t hurt to let your toddler have some ice cream or a small piece of brownie every now and then, but you’re going to have to pace them. Make these special treats infrequent. On top of that, it’s critical to not give them too much sugar per session. Doing so could increase their chances of having poor gum health and, in turn, suffering from trouble with their pearly whites.
So, at any moment you can, it’s best to sneak healthier foods into your child’s life and to limit as much sugar as possible. Their gums rely on nutrients to keep them strong and healthy. Not to mention, sugar feeds bacteria in the mouth, and this bacteria loves to destroy the gums and teeth alike.
#6 Turn to a Pediatric Dentist.
The pediatric dentist isn’t just for children who have oral health-related problems. This professional is for every youngster and can play an essential role in your child’s early life.
Once your kiddo’s first tooth erupts (or before their first birthday, whichever comes first), it’s time to make your kid’s first visit with a pediatric dentist. From there on out, your child will be visiting their pediatric dentist twice a year.
At these appointments, your toddler will get their teeth and gums checked out. The pediatric dentist will suggest anything they see fit if your toddler’s oral health could use some improvements. Your toddler will also get a deep cleaning, which can positively affect their gums and create a healthy basis for their future teeth.
And if something seems off with your toddler’s gums that you notice at home, you don’t need to wait until their next scheduled visit to take them in. Your toddler’s pediatric dentist would be happy to schedule an emergency visit with your little one, especially if it means getting to reverse a problem that can be easily corrected if caught early.
Remember, your toddler will rely on you to keep their oral health in good condition. So, be their teacher, facilitator, and assistant during their toddlerhood and childhood years. This is the first initial step to get your toddler healthy gums and help them develop proper oral health in general.