Parenting is an entire learning experience in itself. You go into it assuming you already know most of what it entails. After all, you were a child at one point in time yourself. Over the years, you learned from your parents what parenting involves: structure, rules, discipline, love, and care. You paid attention to how they took care of you. As a kid, you ate all the meals they prepared for you. You remember all the times they grounded you or punished you. However, being a parent yourself is something new to adjust to. There’s always something to learn and try for the first time as a parent. That includes caring for your son or daughter’s teeth and teaching them how to care for their teeth as they get older. It’s not as easy as handing them a toothbrush and toothpaste and assuming they’ll catch on instantly. If it was that easy, no child would have cavities (but nearly half of them do)! That said, let’s delve deeper into babies’ and kids’ teeth and talk about how to correctly care for them based on the American Dental Association’s recommendations.
When Does Children’s Dental Care Start?
Dental care doesn’t start when the first tooth erupts. In actuality, oral care begins when your infant is approximately three months of age. At this stage, your baby won’t have teeth to care for yet. However, did you know that caring for your baby’s gums is important to help your child eventually form healthy teeth?
Don’t worry; caring for a baby’s gums is easy. It involves taking a clean washrag and gently rubbing it over your baby’s top and bottom gums. This helps remove any debris and excess bacteria present on your little one’s gums. Perform this task after each feeding session daily for best results.
When does the toothbrushing stage start, then? The moment your baby’s first tooth begins to appear through the gums is when it’s time to whip out a baby-safe toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Brush their little tooth twice a day. As they get more teeth, you’ll eventually have more to brush for them. As teeth form next to one another, you can begin flossing their pearly whites. It won’t be until your kid is around age five or six that they will be ready to start brushing their own teeth. In the meantime, it’s up to you, parents, to keep their oral health in great condition! Babies’ and kids’ teeth are quite delicate at this stage, so don’t slack on the oral care.
When Should Your Child Start Going to the Dentist?
Taking your child to their very first dental visit is a big and very important step. According to the American Dental Association, within six months of your baby getting their first tooth or by their first birthday, it’s time to take them to their first appointment. Every child is different in terms of when they get their first tooth, hence why all children, whether or not they have their first tooth, should attend their first dental appointment by the age of one.
Why take your baby to their first dental appointment so early on? It’s critical that a pediatric dentist carefully looks at your little one’s oral standing for any potential concerns, like baby bottle tooth decay. Often, dentists spot things before we do. Not to mention, they have the technology to look under the surface of what we can’t see with the naked eye. On top of that, licensed dentists have solutions for even severe dental conditions that parents wouldn’t be able to tackle on their own.
The point is, never underestimate the knowledge and work of a pediatric dentist. They want what’s best for your baby and want to see your little one’s oral health at its best. Sometimes babies are born with an oral health-related concern. Other times, parents might need a little extra guidance with caring for their infant’s gums and teeth, which dentists can provide. There’s really no harm in taking your kiddo at an early age to the dentist! Part of the health of babies’ and kids’ teeth relies directly on the dentist.
Nutrition Tips for Healthy Babies’ and Kids’ Teeth
Caring for babies’ and kids’ teeth is pretty easy once an oral health routine is regularly followed. However, children can still suffer from oral cavities and other gum- and tooth-related problems. Nutrition plays a big role in the health of babies’ and kids’ teeth, believe it or not.
Children are far more likely to experience oral health problems if they are frequently exposed to unhealthy foods and beverages. Gummy candies, fruit juices served in a bottle, dried fruits, and soda, for instance, are awful for kids’ teeth. Sugar can rot their pearly whites, leaving them with a lot of pain and a poor oral health start.
Rather, keep the ooey-gooey snacks, hard candies, and sugary beverages away from your kid as much as possible. Moderation is everything. Always teach your child the importance of brushing and flossing after consuming these unhealthy options. Better yet, provide them with healthier meals, snacks, and drinks. Celery, yogurt, cheese, milk, and apples, for instance, have the nutrients your child needs for fostering healthy teeth. (Plus, these healthy options are great for your child’s health in general!)
How to Make Brushing Fun for Kids
Kids don’t always find enjoyment with something like brushing their teeth. For many children, brushing their own teeth twice a day can be a grueling task. In general, forming new, positive habits can be frustrating and challenging in many kids’ eyes. And let’s face it; children don’t always like being told what to do.
Not all hope is lost. Just because toothbrushing is boring for some kids doesn’t mean they can’t eventually find amusement in it. Sometimes they need a little help from their parents to see the joy of toothbrushing. Help can go a long way in this scenario.
Healthy Babies’ & Kids’ Teeth and Making Toothbrushing Fun Starts with Motivation
One way to make brushing teeth more enjoyable for your children is to include them in the process. Allow them to select their own toothbrush and toothpaste. There are plenty of options available. Your kiddo might be able to find a toothbrush featuring their favorite color and a toothpaste tube with graphics of their favorite television show. Also let your kiddo know that there are different toothpaste flavors available for them to enjoy, like mint or even something sweet and fruity. It’s little things like this that help children feel more excited about taking care of their pearly whites.
Some children are a bit more stubborn. They might still refuse to brush their teeth twice a day or even pout when they’re told to brush their teeth. These children often require extra motivation, either with an intrinsic or extrinsic reward. For instance, you can choose to give your child a sticker if they successfully brushed their teeth twice a day every day for a week. You can even take away your child’s TV time when they refuse to brush their teeth. When children associate brushing their teeth with rewards or with keeping privileges, they will see it as a more important and enjoyable task.
Motivating your children to care for their teeth isn’t always easy, but one thing’s for sure: it’s critical. It might take a few weeks, but after a while, your little one will be regularly brushing their teeth like a pro in no time. Never underestimate the importance of healthy babies’ and kids’ teeth. It’s never too early!