As a parent, you likely recognize that the foundation for your child’s healthy smile is developed at a rather early age. However, you may have some questions about appropriate dental care for your child, both from professionals and at home. When should you begin brushing your child’s teeth? When should your child first see a dentist? Here is a list of tips that answer some of those questions to help you properly care for your child’s smile.
- Children should have their first check-up with a dentist by their first birthday: The first few teeth have usually erupted within the first year of your child’s life, so this is a good time to get a professional exam to make sure that there are no dental developmental problems. Not only does establishing an early relationship with a dentist normalize this experience for your child, it also may save you money. According to a CDC report, costs for children who see a dentist by age 5 are nearly 40 percent lower than for those who don’t.
- You can gently clean a baby’s gums using a damp washcloth after feedings and before bed. You may also want to do this in the morning. When the first teeth erupt, switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use a tiny amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) until the child turns three, when you can increase to a pea-sized dollop. Make sure that you perform an oral hygiene routine daily with your child to get them habituated to that task.
- Be cautious with what, when and how your child drinks. Putting your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice can give sugar an opportunity to hang around the mouth and fuel bacteria as your baby sleeps. You should also limit your child’s use of sippy cups for the same reason.
- Parents should remove a child’s pacifier by age 2 or 3. Extended pacifier use can create orthodontic problems and even change the shape of the mouth.
Do you have other questions or concerns about making sure that your child’s smile stays healthy? Contact our office to speak to one of our knowledgeable professionals.