February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the slogan is “Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile”. If you have little kids, you may not be aware of current recommendations for their oral health maintenance. But taking excellent care of their teeth and gums correctly from an early age is essential for a disease-free smile that lasts well into adulthood.
Visit Us Early and Often
There is a myth floating around out there that it’s just not important to take care of baby teeth. After all, what’s the point when they are just going to fall out anyway? This is a dangerous mindset to fall into. It’s true that baby teeth are not permanent, but they are vital.
For one thing, your child needs teeth to chew properly, smile, and to speak clearly — an especially critical point in the formative years of speech. Plus, those baby teeth act as placeholders for the permanent teeth that will one day come in. If they come out too early, the surrounding teeth may drift into the space, causing crookedness or crowding when the adult teeth emerge.
If your baby has even one tooth, he or she is susceptible to decay. That’s one reason why we, along with the American Dental Association, recommend you schedule your child’s first dental visit for when the first tooth emerges or around the first birthday.
For this first appointment, we will clean baby’s tooth and examine the mouth. But we also want to give your child a positive experience, which will set the tone for a lifetime of visiting the dentist. Our team is friendly, upbeat, and experienced with making patients of all ages feel comfortable in the chair. Our goal is to give children such a good time, they won’t notice what’s going on in their mouths.
- Kids can put on headphones and watch a favorite show on one of our ceiling-mounted TVs for the ultimate distraction.
- We provide pillows and cozy blankets for comfort.
- Our DIAGNOdent laser tool enables us to noninvasively detect tooth decay even when its tiny, which results in easier treatment.
- With air abrasion technology, we can painlessly treat small cavities without drilling or anesthesia.
- At the end of your child’s visit, he or she may visit our treasure chest for a surprise!
Be Vigilant at Home
Twice-yearly dental visits are important for good oral health, but what happens day-to-day at home matters, too. Did you know you can start taking care of baby’s mouth even before those first teeth erupt? It’s a great idea, because it establishes a routine and gets baby used to you cleaning his or her mouth. Plus, teeth can decay as soon as they emerge from the gum, but sometimes they can be difficult to see at first.
To clean baby’s gums, just wipe them gently with a soft, warm, wet washcloth or piece of gauze wrapped around a finger. This gets rid of excess bacteria and acclimates your child to the routine.
Once a tooth comes in, you should start brushing baby’s teeth with a toothbrush designed for the age and a rice-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste. Like adults, children should brush twice a day for two minutes at a time. Daily flossing should start when the teeth are close enough together for food to get stuck.
When your child turns three, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized dollop. All kids should be supervised until they can be trusted to consistently do a thorough job on their own.
A Tooth-Healthy Diet
What kids consume is important to keeping their mouths healthy. Here are a few tips:
- Never let your baby fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice. This can lead to a condition called Baby Bottle Mouth, or decay of the baby teeth.
- Keep the house free of sugary beverages like soda, juice, and sports drinks. Get your kids used to quenching their thirst with water, which helps keep them stay hydrated and cleans out their mouths.
- Don’t buy gummy or chewy snacks, which get stuck in the teeth and promote the proliferation of harmful bacteria. Encourage your family to snack on dental-health-friendly options like carrot sticks with hummus, apples, or cheese sticks.
At The Smile Center, we have the children’s dentistry and general dentistry services that your family needs. To book an appointment, fill out our convenient online form or call of our South Carolina offices: Murrells Inlet at 843-507-5219 or Georgetown at 843-507-5064.