As your child begins the race to adulthood, their body undergoes an incredible amount of change, which is certainly true of their dental health. From the first baby teeth to the arrival of their permanent teeth, it seems that their mouth is changing at a fast and furious rate, and it’s all the tooth fairy can do to keep up.
Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, Dr. Michael Kim and the rest of our team wanted to share a few great practices and preventive measures that you, as a parent, can take to set your children up for a lifetime of great oral health.
Before we get into our five tips for healthy teeth, we want to underscore how important your child’s early teeth are. While it’s easy to think of baby teeth as disposable since more permanent ones are on their way, these starter teeth play a crucial role in your child’s development.
To start, baby teeth are critical in how your child learns to speak and chew. Second, they act as extremely important place holders for their secondary teeth, safeguarding these spaces along their jawbones until the permanent teeth are ready. This means that losing baby teeth to decay — and around 50% of kids have one or more cavities by the age of five — can have a negative impact in how their permanent teeth settle into place.
By taking the time to ensure that these baby teeth successfully play their developmental role, you’ll save a considerable amount of dental work down the road. Here’s how.
1. Start early with self care
As soon as your child is able to do a few things on their own, add taking care of their teeth to the list. There are dozens of brushes and toothpastes that are designed specifically for children, so set them up with the right tools from the start. Of course, you’ll have to oversee the early care and intervene for a more thorough job, but by getting them used to a twice-a-day brushing habit, you’ll ensure that tooth care is part of their everyday routine.
2. Start early with dental care
Starting early with professional dental care accomplishes several things. First, it gets your child used to our offices, where our friendly staff makes sure that dental visits aren’t fraught with anxiety and fear. Second, as their baby teeth come in, we can apply a protective sealant over them to help ward off tooth decay.
3. Watch that sugar
Baby teeth are not as strong as their permanent counterparts, which means they’re especially prone to decay. You’d do well to avoid too many sweetened foods and beverages, especially ones that linger in their mouths, like lollipops or sippy cups full of sugary drinks. As well, all of those convenient juice boxes are loaded with sugar, so be aware of the ingredients in everything your child eats and drinks. Of course, a sweet treat every once in a while isn’t a bad thing, just make sure they rinse afterward.
4. Welcoming their adult teeth
As your child’s secondary teeth start to make an appearance, it’s important that you keep up with your regular dental exams here with Dr. Kim so we can make sure that everything is coming in on track. During these early stages, we can look out for any eruption problems and ensure that each tooth takes its proper place.
5. Lead by example
One of the most important roles that a parent plays is that of a mentor to their children, which often comes down to leading by example. During every stage of your child’s oral development, show them how they can make a difference in their dental health by taking great care of your own teeth. Brush together during the early days, make flossing a game, and show them how great at-home care can lead to healthy teeth. Leading by example is a win-win for everyone’s teeth.
If you’d like more tips on taking care of your child’s dental health, please give our office in Mequon, Wisconsin, a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to make an appointment.