Good childhood dental care starts with regular visits to the dentist’s office. You can make that first appointment when the first teeth erupt, or at least by the time your child turns one. Why are early visits so important? Recognizing the early signs of tooth decay in children is not always easy. Your dentist can tell you how your little one’s teeth are doing and recommend anything to help protect against decay, like fluoride treatments or dental sealants. Also, it doesn’t hurt to get a few oral care pointers from a dental professional. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that could help you take better care of your child’s teeth.
Teaching your child proper oral care at a young age is an investment in his or her health that will pay lifelong dividends. You can start by setting an example; taking good care of your own teeth sends a message that oral health is something to be valued. And anything that makes taking care of teeth fun, like brushing along with your child or letting them choose their own toothbrush, encourages proper oral care.
To help your children protect their teeth and gums and greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, teach them to follow these simple steps:
- Brush twice a day with an ADA — accepted fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque-the sticky film on teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
- Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods, which produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack-the extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from the mouth.
- Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
- Make sure that your children’s drinking water is fluoridated. If your water supply; municipal, well or bottled does not contain fluoride, your dentist or paediatrician may prescribe daily fluoride supplements.
- Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups.