Parents' FAQ: Kids & Dental Care
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM), and here at Hydralief we are passionate about oral health and we know that when it comes to having and maintaining a clean, healthy mouth, habits must start early. That’s why we are proud to participate in a month that, according to the ADA, “brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.”
This year’s slogan for NCDHM is "brush and clean in between to build a healthy smile." For parents, we know this all sounds good and well in a slogan, but in practice you can feel lost when it comes to your child’s dental care.
With mixed messages and various “expert” online opinions, the when, where and how of taking care of your child’s teeth are not always clear. Plus, is it really that important to keep a child’s teeth clean when she’s going to lose all of them anyways?
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), tooth decay is the most common, chronic disease in children. But tooth decay is also entirely preventable, so dental and oral care should be a priority for caretakers, even if their children are young and only have baby teeth.
To clear up some of the confusion around children’s oral health, we’ve researched the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from parents about their children’s teeth:
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
As soon as you see the first tooth! WebMD suggests using a soft washcloth to clean the first couple of teeth. Then you can switch to a toothbrush once four teeth have come in, or when your child is two or three years old. You can ask your dentist what the best timing is for your child.
Which leads to our next question…
When should I start taking my child to the dentist?
Earlier than you think; Some experts suggest as early as age one, or at least within six months of your baby’s first tooth. This way your dentist can keep a close eye on your child’s teeth, watch for irregularities and have a good rapport with your child as they get older.
Should my child floss?
Yes! But remember, your child won’t have the dexterity to brush or floss their own teeth until they are about seven or eight years old. Begin flossing your child’s teeth once they have two teeth that have grown in next to each other. It’s also important for your child to see you brushing and flossing your teeth regularly so that when they're old enough, they will want to brush and floss their own teeth.
What kind of toothpaste should I use?
The NIDCR recommends using a toothpaste with fluoride to prevent cavities and reverse any existing tooth decay. As they explain, "Fluoride is a mineral that prevents mineral loss in the tooth, and reduces the ability for bacteria on the tooth to make acid that breaks away at the tooth’s enamel."
Brushing a squirming child’s teeth might feel like a chore now, but trust us; it is critical for your child’s future oral - and overall - health. Consider brushing and flossing as important as bath time and a healthy diet, and your child will start to see dental care as a fun and important part of their everyday routine.
**To learn more about NCDHM and how you can get involved, visit the ADA's website here.**