Many people believe that it doesn’t matter if kids get cavities in their baby teeth. In reality, the 23% of children ages 2-11 with untreated cavities are more likely to have problems with their adult teeth, too.
Here at Union Square Dental, in the Flatiron District of New York City, our experienced and gentle dentists offer outstanding pediatric dentistry services to set up children for a lifetime of healthy teeth and beautiful smiles.
Here’s our advice on how you can protect your child’s dental health, help them develop excellent at-home dental hygiene habits, and teach them not to fear the dentist.
When your child was born, they already had 20 tiny teeth safely stowed in their jaws just waiting to emerge. Even before your baby’s teeth start to appear — usually between 6-12 months — you can start their oral hygiene routine. If you start early, by the time your child has all of their baby teeth — typically around their third birthday — they can already have good hygiene habits.
Before your child’s teeth erupt, you can gently wipe their gums with a soft washcloth or moist gauze. It’s a good practice to clean their gums after feedings and before bed. Then, once their teeth start to emerge, you can add small amounts of toothpaste and begin to use a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles.
According to the American Dental Association, your child should have their first dental appointment between 6-12 months — around the time their first tooth erupts. You might think your child doesn’t need to see a dentist until they’re older, but we offer simple checks to look for growth or development issues. Also, starting early can help children feel more comfortable with routine dental visits.
We find that children have a more positive experience when:
You can also talk to your child about their appointment in advance and read books about going to the dentist.
Fluoride is critical to your child’s oral health. It can help strengthen and repair weakened tooth enamel and make it more resistant to decay. Without fluoride, your child may have a higher risk of developing tooth decay.
While some communities add it to tap water, using toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain it is a great way to guarantee that your child will receive sufficient amounts of fluoride during their formative years.
Teeth brushing should become second nature. You and your child should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. We can help you choose the right size and type of toothbrush for your child.
You can also use a fun routine or apps to make brushing teeth more like a game than a chore. It’s important to develop a good dental routine from the earliest age possible so your child can keep their teeth and gums healthy.
As much as your little one may like sugary treats, such as candy, the bacteria in their mouth love it even more. Bacteria thrive when they have plenty to eat, and the more they multiply, the bigger the danger they’ll be to your child’s teeth and gums. So limit their consumption of candy and sugary snacks.
You should avoid dipping their pacifiers or bottles in anything sweet. Furthermore, you should help your child to start drinking from a cup by their first birthday, which will help reduce their risk for developing tooth decay. Sugary treats can be hard to avoid, so when your child does eat something with sugar, try to have them brush their teeth afterward.
If you’re looking for expert pediatric dental care or need advice on taking care of your child’s teeth, book an appointment online or over the phone with Union Square Dental today.