Tips on Good Dental Care for Your Child

Starting at a young age is the best opportunity to develop good dental hygiene that can prevent cavities, gum disease, and even other health issues that can be the result of poor dental habits.

Dental Care for Your Child

Parents, you may be asking yourself when is a good time to start introducing your child to dental care. The answer is easy: when their first tooth pops out. Starting at a young age is the best opportunity to develop good dental hygiene that can prevent cavities, gum disease, and even other health issues that can be the result of poor dental habits. The dental providers at Bluestem Health in Lincoln, Nebraska want to make sure that you have the correct information to help develop excellent daily oral care routines. Your child’s teeth deserve the best care.

Preventing Cavities

Did you know that tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases of children in the U.S.? When cavities go untreated, they can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of children impacted by poor dental care is staggering.

  • About 20% of children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • 13% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • Children aged 5 to 19 years from low-income families are twice as likely to have cavities, compared with children from higher-income households.

That’s why it is so important to have your child receive regular dental checkups and practice good dental habits at home starting at a young age. Cavities can be prevented. We’ve put together some helpful tips that can help you ensure that your child’s teeth are being cared for properly.

Monitor Sugar Consumption

Most parents don’t know about hidden sugar in many foods and beverages that their kiddos consume every day.

  • Fruit Juices: Even if the container states the drink is “100% fruit juice, no sugar added” it probably isn’t accurate. Always check the labels for sugar content, especially for “hidden sugars” which may be listed under a different name, such as dextrose, fructose, sucrose, etc.
  • Soda: Most kids enjoy the sweet taste of soda, but it is really hard on tooth enamel. Not only is there added sugar, but sodas also contain acid which can cause teeth to become soft and weak, allowing the sugar to penetrate the enamel and cause cavities.
  • Chips: The salty, savory flavor of chips is hard to resist. Even though your child doesn’t taste anything sweet, there is actually a lot of sugar in them. Potatoes are high in carbs which breakdown as sugar when eaten.

The important takeaway is to get in the habit of reading food labels before you purchase drinks, or any foods. There’s no way that you can eliminate consumption of all sugar, but keeping it in moderation and making sure your child is getting regular dental checkups will go a long way in reducing cavities.

Practice Daily Brushing of Teeth

Even before your child’s first tooth pops out, it’s good to wipe their gums each day. Introduce the toothbrush when the first tooth can be seen. That’s also the best time to schedule your child with a new dental home to ensure everything is growing and functioning as it should be.

  • Make sure to have the right size toothbrush for your child, one that fits their teeth. It should have soft bristles. Try to get them to brush for two minutes, twice a day. Morning and before bed are good times, but whatever times work best.
  • When brushing, have your child use a circular motion when they first start out, and brush each tooth separately so they don’t leave any plaque behind.
  • Make sure they brush all three surfaces of the teeth: the side that faces the tongue, the other side that faces the cheek, and the top of the chewing surface.
  • Flossing can be done once a day using little “flossers” – the technique of scrubbing should be up and down on all sides of the tooth including the gums between the teeth.

Dental Sealants

Dental sealants can be very beneficial in preventing tooth decay. It’s a painless procedure that focuses on covering the chewing surface of the teeth, usually beginning with the back teeth first. The sealant provides a protective barrier that fills in all of the grooves and valleys on the tooth’s surface to keep food from getting trapped in the tooth. Sealant also contains fluoride-releasing benefits.

We encourage parents to consider dental sealant for kids aged 6-14, when cavities are more prone to occur. Sealants may be suggested even earlier for some children as young as infants.

Start Early

Teaching your child about proper tooth care starts early. Developing good oral hygiene habits and ensuring your child is getting regular dental checkups will stay with them throughout their adult life.

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