As a parent, you want to see your loved ones, especially your kids, smiling as confidently as possible. Their smiles speak of not only their happiness but also their overall health. That’s why promoting dental and oral hygiene is essential to your family health plan.
Promoting dental and oral hygiene is key to having a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. It’s more than telling your kids to brush and floss their teeth regularly. Its main goal is to make the process fun and simple so they’ll be willing to preserve their beautiful smiles.
But why is it so important? Because poor dental and oral health can result in a wide range of health issues. These include asthma, arthritis, and several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Hence, keeping good dental and oral health is vital.
The first step toward a healthy mouth starts with a visit to a trusted family dental clinic near you, such as Familydentalhealth.com or similar ones. Family dentists offer dental and oral treatment for all ages, from infants to toddlers to adults—a one-stop shop for your family’s oral care needs.
So, where should you begin? This guide will help you discover the proper dental and oral care for every age. Read below to learn more.
Dental And Oral Care For Infants And Toddlers
Dental and oral care is vital to everyone, but how about the teeth of your infants and toddlers? Of course, they’re all essential, and here’s why:
They allow your child to grind and process food more easily.
They help form the structure of your baby’s face.
They allow your child to speak more clearly.
They provide space for the formation of permanent teeth.
That’s why keeping the tiny choppers of your little kids healthy is crucial.
Your Toddler’s First Trip To The Dentist
Your toddler’s first trip to the dentist is a huge milestone. As a parent, you will be guided by the dentist on how to take care of your baby's teeth and maintain them properly. Although it sounds exciting, it’s alright to feel anxious about it since it’s your baby’s first time, and you don’t know how they’ll react. But that's completely okay. You and your baby will get used to it as you make it a routine to visit your dentist.
Experts recommend bringing your kids to the dentist (a pediatric or family dentist) as soon as they turn a year old. It will help ensure that their teeth grow properly and prevent dental issues.
Nevertheless, bringing your kids when they’re six months old might be better. This way, you can identify potential issues and risk factors regarding their teeth.
How To Take Care Of Your Child’s Teeth?
Brushing is the best way to take care of your child’s teeth. It will help prevent plaque buildups that can lead to tooth decay, weakening their teeth.
Brush your children’s teeth at least twice a day—after breakfast and dinner—to ensure a strong and healthy set of teeth.
Here’s how to do toothbrushing properly:
For infants and toddlers two years and below, the amount of fluoride toothpaste you need should only be as small as a grain of rice. And when a tooth hasn’t come out yet, use a soft cotton cloth and wrap it over your index finger.
Wet the cloth with water and gently wipe their gums.
If their teeth start to come out, that’s when you need a toothbrush. Be sure to look for those with soft bristles to prevent hurting their ultra-sensitive gums.
Position the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle across their teeth.
Move the toothbrush gently in a circular motion—avoid back-and-forth motion so as not to damage their gums and teeth.
Brush the inner and outer surfaces of both upper and lower teeth.
Do this until all teeth are brushed properly—around two minutes.
Brush their tongue gently.
When your child turns three, increase the amount of toothpaste to pea size. Also, if they don’t know how to spit yet, there’s nothing to worry about. A small amount of toothpaste won’t harm them, but you must still teach and encourage them to spit as much as possible.
Your child should be able to brush their teeth when they reach two years old. And watch them as they do to ensure they’re cleaning their mouth well. Also, when the toothbrush bristles wear down, replace them immediately. If your child continues to use it, it will not do its job in cleaning the teeth and can harm their gums.
Does Your Child Need Flossing?
Flossing is the practice of removing dirt between teeth with the help of dental floss. It will help ensure that your teeth are free from plaque buildup since toothbrushing cannot remove all food particles stuck between your teeth.
Dentists advise parents to floss their child’s teeth as soon as two teeth grow side by side. It is crucial to your child’s dental and oral health because their gums are still weak. And this will ensure that no food particles get stuck between your child’s little white pearls.
However, encouraging children to floss regularly can be challenging. If that’s the case, consider giving them incentives to empower them. For example, you may give them a new toy if they floss to reward them for caring for their teeth.
What Are Other Things That Can Help Prevent Tooth Decay?
Here are some tips that can help prevent your kids from having tooth decay:
Use A Feeding Bottle Only When Necessary: Feeding bottles should not be confused with a pacifier, so don’t use them like one. Otherwise, your child’s teeth may get damaged.
Hold Your Baby When Feeding Formula: Don’t leave them alone in bed with a bottle of milk to prevent sugar and acid from building up.
Remove Your Breast When You're Done Breastfeeding: When your child falls asleep during breastfeeding, gently remove your breast and lay them down in bed.
Avoid Overfeeding: As soon as the first tooth comes out, avoid overfeeding your child. Only feed them at the right time or whenever necessary.
Stop Using A Feeding Bottle: When your child reaches one year old, train them to drink milk from a cup or glass instead of a feeding bottle.
Avoid Other Beverages: If your child gets thirsty at any time of the day, give them water. Don’t provide sugary beverages, such as cola and juice, to prevent sugary buildups that can lead to decay.
Furthermore, dentists recommend coating your child’s first set of teeth with fluoride toothpaste to keep them stronger and protect them from potential decay.
What Should Be Included In Your Child’s Diet?
Diet is crucial to maintaining good dental and oral health. If your kid eats sugary foods and beverages, they’ll be more prone to tooth decay. Sugary substances are food to bacteria that produce acids, which can cause cavities.
Keep in mind that cavity formation is much faster in infants and toddlers than in adults. That said, here are some tips regarding your kid’s diet:
Only Give Breastmilk: A child 12 months old and below should not consume sugary beverages or water. Only breastmilk is beneficial at this age. Also, be sure not to add sugar or honey when making milk using formula.
Start Providing Water: After 12 months, start giving water every other meal. Still, no juices and other sugary foods are allowed. Also, don’t forget to rinse their teeth and gums with water to remove any sugar particles.
Avoid Sticky Foods: Never give your little kids sticky snacks, such as gummies, that can get stuck between their teeth. Not to mention, they’re made with a lot of sugars—another reason not to give them gummies.
Add More To Their Diet As They Grow Old: Add fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options like yogurt to their snack time. Still, you have to limit sticky and starchy foods that get stuck between their teeth.
Follow these diet tips to ensure proper and healthy teeth formation for your infants and toddlers.
Dental And Oral Care For Kindergarteners
When your child reaches three, most of their milk teeth have completely emerged. On their fourth birthday, you’ll notice significant developments in their facial structure and some gaps or spaces between their teeth. These gaps will prepare their mouth for permanent teeth.
At this age, your child should already know how to spit out toothpaste after brushing. So now, consider teaching them how to gargle using a fluoride mouthwash. Make sure to choose an alcohol-free one to preserve the oral microbiota (the good bacteria) in their mouth.
Here are some helpful tips to follow:
Use kid-friendly mouthwash. They’re often made with more gentle ingredients compared to those for adults.
Be sure to read the instructions from the mouthwash bottle carefully before letting your child use it. Some are only once-daily use while others are twice-daily (morning and night).
Make sure to store mouthwash in areas your children can’t reach.
Watch them closely when they use mouthwash to ensure they don’t swallow it.
Make sure your kids are done brushing and flossing their teeth before you let them use mouthwash.
Allow them to rinse their mouth using mouthwash for 60 seconds. Make sure they spit it out once done.
Prevent your kids from eating anything within 30 minutes after they gargle.
Your child is now big enough to be left alone with the dentist. Sit back in the lobby and wait for your child to finish their appointment with the dentist. It is a good way to train your child in how to become an independent and responsible individual.
Furthermore, don’t forget to advise your kids about brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing after eating. Also, observe them and make sure they’re doing it properly.
Dental And Oral Care For Elementary Children
Elementary age is between six and 12 years old. When your child reaches six, their milk teeth will start to come off to prepare the way for permanent ones.
The first set of teeth that often comes off is the front ones (the incisors—the middlemost four teeth at the upper and lower jaw). The teeth from the side of the incisors to the pre-molars will follow, and it may take a couple of years or until your child reaches 12.
Here’s what to do when your child experiences discomfort after losing a tooth:
Prepare a saltwater solution and have your kids gargle it to rinse and clean their mouths.
If there’s bleeding, get a tiny piece of gauze pad to cover the socket (the area where the tooth comes off).
Ask your kids not to spit, as it can induce more bleeding around the area.
If there’s no longer bleeding, use a cold, damp cloth to alleviate the remaining pain and discomfort.
It may sound too early, but elementary age is the right time to schedule your children for their first orthodontic assessment. This dental evaluation will help determine potential and underlying concerns regarding your child’s dental and oral health.
If there’s a problem, make sure that your kids will receive the treatment they need as soon as possible. Don’t worry. The dentist will ensure your child gets the best care they deserve.
Dental And Oral Care For Middle Schoolers And Beyond
Middle school age, also known as the teenage years, starts at 13. By this age, congratulate your teens, for they already have a complete set of permanent teeth.
At this point, it’s best to schedule your teens for an orthodontic assessment and regular dental checkups, especially when they have dental alignment issues. If their teeth need realignment, they might be advised to get some braces or other orthodontic treatments, such as:
Clear dental aligners, such as Invisalign
Elastics or rubber bands that force teeth in areas where braces alone can’t handle
Clear plastic retainers
When teens reach 18-20 years old, their last teeth will erupt. These are called third molars, also known as the ‘wisdom teeth.’
In most cases, wisdom teeth emerge at an awkward angle, stuck between small spaces and the second molar. These are called impacted wisdom teeth, and they can be extremely painful.
Here are some simple home remedies to relieve the pain of impacted wisdom teeth:
Use an ice pack to numb the area and reduce inflammation and swelling.
Rinse with a saltwater solution to kill bacteria thriving in broken gums.
Chew an onion on the affected area to maximize its anti-inflammatory effects. Then, spit out.
Some people prefer to have their wisdom teeth extracted to relieve the pain, especially when simple home remedies don’t work anymore. Also, it pushes and adds pressure to your second molars due to the angle of their growth.
Good dental and oral care should be one of your family’s top priorities. It promotes a healthy mouth, a beautiful smile, and overall health. That said, always encourage your family to practice proper oral hygiene regularly. Brush twice daily and floss after every meal. It will help prevent plaque buildup and cavities that can cause tooth decay.