Dental health is important at any age. But a child’s dental
health is of special importance. Improper dental care can affect growing teeth
and cause dental problems in adult teeth down the line. According to the National
Institutes of Health, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in
children. Over 40 percent of children aged 2 to 11 have had a cavity in their
baby teeth and over two-thirds of teenagers aged 16 to 19 have had a cavity in
their adult teeth. So below are some top tips for keeping children’s dental
health in good order.
The basics of
children’s dental health
Children have similar needs to what we have for dental
health, with some minor alterations. Some tips to follow include:
Brush teeth twice daily with an American Dental
Association-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
Floss twice per day, as well.
Ideally, a child’s drinking water should be
fluoridated. You may need to call the city to find out if and how much
fluoridation is in your water and talk to your dentist to see if those levels
are sufficient. Fluoride can strengthen enamel and help it stand stronger
against decay. Your dentist may provide fluoride supplements.
Limit the starchy and sugar-loaded foods. Watch
out for foods like candy, cookies, dried fruit, pretzels, potato chips and
sodas. These combine with plaque to create acids, wearing away enamel and
causing cavities. Try to limit snacking, especially in areas without
sufficiently fluoridated water.
With these habits you’ll be able to prevent cavities in your
The best brushing
techniques for kids
The brushing needs for your child aren’t too different from
our own. With a child, you’ll use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste. You’ll want to
use a soft-bristled brush, aiming for the inside of the teeth first where
debris and plaque can most accumulate. Then brush the outside of the tooth, and
then the top side of the tooth. And remember to brush the tongue.
When to take infants
to the dentist
It’s easy to put off going to the dentist, since children
“just” have baby teeth. But starting dental care early can create better dental
health habits down the line and help avoid costly dental procedures. This will
also get your child used to the dentist at an early age, rather than having the
child associate the dentist with a painful emergency down the line.
Baby teeth pop up around six months of age, and that’s when
you should look into taking your kid to a local
dentist. The minute a tooth is there, it’s at risk for decay. The American
Dental Association recommends
making an appointment within the first six months of the first tooth
There are a few common dental procedures that may benefit
children. One is a dental sealant, where plastic coatings are put on the top
surfaces of a child’s permanent back teeth, which are susceptible to decay.
There’s no pain and it’s a quick procedure. You may want to talk to your
dentist about whether sealants are right for your child.