San Diego, CA – Good oral hygiene habits are not something any of us have at birth. The best place for children to learn is at home with their parents. We’ll gladly help with your baby’s oral hygiene, but there’s no denying the importance of family encouragement to develop good habits.
When you help develop a good routine early in your child’s life, you set them up for a lifetime of healthy smiling.
“Children learn first from their parents, so it is important that you are modeling good oral habits for them to see,” says San Diego children’s dentist and orthodontist Dr. Santiago Surillo. “If you don’t make taking care of your teeth a priority, you may just be showing your children that they don’t need to take their teeth seriously, either.”
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Children’s Oral Hygiene?
These recommendations change with your child’s age. However, the principle remains. Get rid of as many food particles left in your child’s mouth as possible.
Helping your children care for their teeth begins before you can even see their first tooth, and in fact, it starts before your children are born.
Primary teeth begin their formation during the sixth week of pregnancy and then mineralize in the fourth month. An expectant mother should pay close attention to her diet to ensure the proper nutrients, especially calcium, phosphorous, and protein, can reach the baby.
Once your child is born, it’s important to wipe their gums after each feeding. Yes, that also includes when they wake up in the middle of the night for another meal.
This will ensure the sugars found in breastmilk and formula don’t stay for too long in the mouth, potentially feeding harmful bacteria and harming your baby’s dental health.
Once the first tooth appears, you could begin brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and dentist-recommended toothpaste. Please pay attention to your baby’s pediatric dentist.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Avoid fluoride-toothpaste before age 2. Your baby may not yet understand the concept of spitting out. Whatever enters a baby’s mouth is bound to get swollen.
If you start brushing your baby’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste, they may ingest it and feel a little sick. In extreme cases, too much fluoride can lead to a condition known as fluorosis.
Be careful not to give them too much fluoride before they are ready, but always keep in mind the importance of fluoride for dental health. We know; it’s complicated.
Afterward, it’s important you continue to adapt your child’s routine and join them to reinforce the need for those habits.
Be sure you brush at least twice a day and floss daily. Use mouthwash when your child rinses their mouth at the end of the routine.
Seeing you keeping a regular dental routine will help your children see that it is important. Also, make sure to keep regular check-ups with your dentist and talk to your children about why it’s important to see a dental health professional.
Get a Pediatric Dentist to Help With Your Kid’s Oral Health
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should take your kid to see any pedodontist La Mesa has to offer by age 1 or when their first tooth erupts.
“Many people don’t realize that children should see a dentist for the first time by the age of one,” says Dr. Surillo. “This is important because we want to establish a relationship with the child as soon as we can. Early childhood caries are now the number one chronic childhood illness, overtaking even asthma. We want to do everything we can to help prevent your child from experiencing dental decay. Beginning a relationship with a dentist at an early age can do just that.”
Starting a relationship with a dentist early not only helps ensure that your dentist can catch and treat issues before they become more severe, but it signals to your child that visiting the dentist is normal and essential.
We want to make sure we help your kid prevent severe dental health diseases before they irreparably damage their teeth.
There are some preventative dentistry treatments anyone can use to help their child minimize the risk of tooth decay, dental caries, and periodontal diseases.
Remember how we mentioned above that you should use fluoride toothpaste? Well, at a professional dentist’s office, you can get a more efficient application of fluoride for your child’s teeth. You could also get dental sealants to make it harder for food debris and bacteria to stick to the biting surface of your kid’s molars.
All that said, as great as these treatments are, your kid’s dental hygiene routine is of the utmost importance if we want to maintain your kid’s good oral health.
Why You Should Choose a Pediatric Dentist
“Many people are afraid of the dentist,” says Dr. Surillo. “But if your child begins a relationship with us early on, they’ll realize there is nothing to fear, and together, we become a team to ensure the health of their mouth.”
It can help parents to take their children to a pediatric dentist rather than a general dentist. Choosing to go to one of the best pediatric dentists La Mesa has to offer will take your kid to offices that consider age-appropriate furniture, toys, games, etc.
All these perks will help your child feel more relaxed and calm. A pediatric dentist will also have the unique skills needed to work with children of all ages, even those who are very anxious about their visits.
Summarizing the Advice
Dr. Surillo offers the following additional tips for parents to help ensure their children have healthy teeth and gums:
- Ensure your child has adequate fluoride intake. Use fluoridated water and fluoride toothpaste. Never introduce additional fluoride unless advised by your dentist, however.
- Ensure your children eat a healthy and varied diet. You know the saying “you are what you eat,” and a healthy diet keeps your teeth and body healthy. Ensure your children eat a rich diet high in minerals such as calcium and protein.
- Say no to sugar. A little treat every now and then is fine, but don’t let your children overindulge in sugary treats and beverages. Make sure they drink plenty of water throughout the day, and if you give them juice, try to limit it to only at mealtimes when there is plenty of saliva to wash away the sugars.
- Never let your child go to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup. This allows the sugars from their drink to pool in their mouths, increasing their risk for decay.
- Don’t share your fear of the dentist. We know the fear of the dentist is very common, and many adults are anxious about sitting in our chairs. But even if you fall into that category, don’t pass that fear on.
- Encourage them to ask questions and talk about any fears or concerns they have. And don’t hesitate to bring them in for a get-to-know-you visit – we’re happy to meet with your child and simply talk before we ever do an exam.
Ensuring a healthy smile starts at home. When you encourage good behavior, the chances are your children will pick up on it. So if your dental health is a priority for you, you can pass that on to your children and encourage a healthy smile for life.