Most parents begin to think about their child’s teeth when they begin to see them. When that first tooth comes in, most parents go out and purchase the baby tooth paste and perhaps an infant toothbrush. While this probably works in most cases, those babies with a familial history of “bad teeth” or those that have sensitive gums could have already suffered damage.
Babies develop their teeth while they are in the womb and at the time of birth reportedly have around 20 teeth hidden inside their gums, so it stands to reason that if their gums aren’t cared for, when those teeth come in they could have problems. While toothpaste isn’t recommended for small children due to their susceptibility to choking, you can take a warm washcloth to wipe their gums free of bacteria. In addition, proper bottle technique can be discussed between parents and the pediatrician to prevent any damage to the baby’s gums.
Children should go to their first dentist’s appointment around their first birthday. At this point, it is good to ask all the questions you may have, so you can be prepared for taking care of your child’s teeth. By 2 or 3 years of age, children can start using a toothbrush along with a very small amount of toothpaste, just enough to cover the brush’s bristles lightly. Their teeth should be brushed twice a day, along with flossing. It’s hard to say exactly how many times a child’s teeth should be flossed, but parents can attempt regular flossing and determine the schedule based on the comfort level of the child, paying special attention to swelling or bleeding of the gums.
Dentists have many new tools at their disposal these days. These advances in dentistry can save children a lot of discomfort and money in the long run. Special sealants can be placed on the molar teeth which do most of the chewing. This sealant can protect the teeth and crevices from harboring bacteria, and can even secrete fluoride for an added benefit to the teeth.
Habits are hard to break, whether good or bad, and while kids are young and impressionable is a great time to establish healthy dental regimens. At the very least this can save parents lots of money on root canals and fillings and hopefully lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth for their child. For more information on healthy dental habits, talk to your family dentist or visit The American Dental Association at ada.org.
Justin Glaze is an LPN and contributing columnist for the Walker County Messenger. He can be reached at 678-988-1011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.