The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that tooth decay is the single largest ailment impacting children. In fact, tooth decay is more widespread than illnesses such as asthma. As a parent, you can help establish habits that will lead to a lifetime of optimal oral health for your child. Essential oral health care practices start during infancy. Don’t wait for your child’s teeth to begin erupting before considering their oral health.
1. Clean Gums, Healthy Smile
Before your infant has teeth, it is important that you clean their gums. This can be done by using a clean, damp cloth and gently wiping your child’s gum line. This cleans off any residue from food and drink. When left uncleaned, your child may be at risk for developing gum disease. Our team suggests cleaning your child’s gums at least twice a day.
2. Introduce Toothpaste
Many parents find it helpful to introduce the flavor of toothpaste to infants after establishing a routine of cleaning their gums. Consult our team before using any toothpaste on your child’s gums. A small amount of toothpaste may be rubbed on your child’s gums. The amount of toothpaste used should be significantly less than what you might put on your own toothbrush.
3. When Teeth Erupt, Brush
Once your child’s first tooth erupts, it is time to begin brushing. We recommend selecting a soft-bristled toothbrush made for infants. A pea-sized amount of child-friendly toothpaste should be used. Gently brush your child’s tooth, and be sure not to neglect their gums. Continue to gently clean their gums.
4. Visit Us
When your child’s first tooth erupts, it’s time to visit our 02903 pediatric dental team. Their first dental examination should be scheduled once you notice the appearance of their first tooth. Children should receive at least two regular dental examinations each year, or more if they are at a higher risk for oral health complications.
5. Instill Proper Brushing Habits
Help your child learn how to brush their teeth. Children learn by imitating. You can try brushing alongside your child to supervise their progress. Children should brush twice each day, for a minimum of two full minutes. Each child develops at his or her own rate, but on average, children can begin brushing their own teeth, with parental supervision, at age 5.
Proper oral health practices are vital for infants and children. Your role as a parent is to shape your child’s habits to set them on a path for a healthy smile that will last a lifetime. Don’t wait for your child’s first tooth to erupt before considering their oral health.