All parents want their children to be strong and healthy, but during the chaos of the early years, it is easy to forget about the importance of oral health. Whether your child is a delicate newborn or a rowdy toddler, these tips can help you take care of their teeth and gums.
1. Establish an Oral Hygiene Routine Right Away
As soon as your child is born, you need to take steps to protect their oral health. After every feed, use a clean cloth to gently wipe droplets of milk away from their gums. This simple action reduces the growth of oral bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.
2. Avoid Bottle Cavities
Many parents put their toddlers to bed with a bottle or milk or juice. While this practice can help to soothe the child, it can damage their oral health. Both milk and juice contain sugar that feeds oral bacteria. A better practice is to give your toddler warm milk before bed to help them calm down. You can then clean their teeth thoroughly before putting them to bed. The only liquid children should have at night is water.
3. Choose Fluoride Toothpaste
Dentists recommend using toothpaste with fluoride to clean children's teeth. This is because fluoride strengthens tooth enamel. When cleaning the teeth of very young children, use only a tiny smear of toothpaste to minimise the amount of paste they swallow, as fluoride can cause brown spots to develop on teeth if very large amounts are consumed. When your child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste, you can move on to using a larger amount.
4. Protect Kids' Teeth During Sports
Encouraging your kids to take part in sports is a fantastic way to promote their overall health, but it can put them at risk of oral injuries. Using a mouthguard is a good way to protect a child's teeth from being hit in the mouth with a bat, ball, shoulder or elbow. You can get a "boil and bite" mouthguard from the pharmacy or ask your dentist to make a custom fit mouthguard for your child.
5. Don't Forget Dental Checkups
All children should have a dental checkup by the time they turn two. This checkup allows a dentist to ensure that the child's teeth are developing correctly. It is very important to maintain a regular schedule of dental checkups throughout childhood to protect against tooth decay and gum disease. To help put your child at ease, choose a family dentist who has plenty of experience of working with children.