Caring for Your Child’s Teeth

Children’s oral hygiene starts even before you can see teeth. Periodically wiping off their gums with a moist, soft cloth is all that is needed initially. As teeth start to erupt, brushing with a small toothbrush can be started. At this point, toothpaste without fluoride should be used.

Ideally, teeth should be cleaned after each meal. Realistically though, make sure their teeth are clean before bedtime and again after breakfast. When you start to notice teeth next to each other touching, those areas need to be flossed as well. This isn’t as hard as it sounds if you follow some guidelines.

Cleaning children’s teeth doesn’t need to be a difficult task. By lying the child down on the floor and kneeling behind their head, it is much easier. This position usually improves visibility because of better lighting. It also gives kids fewer directions to wiggle since they are on the floor. When my kids were younger, they would sometimes get overtired and shake their heads side to side. By sliding forward and placing their head between my knees, it solved this dilemma as well.

At night, children should only have water in a bottle near them. Milk, juice, or even breast milk can cause severe decay at night.

Fluoride is an important part of preventing cavities, but too much in their diet can cause children’s developing permanent teeth to be discolored. This is why you want them to spit out their toothpaste if it has fluoride and also why they should use a nonfluoridated toothpaste until they learn to spit. If you live in an area that does not have fluoride in the water, make sure you let me know and I will prescribe some supplements. Most bottled water does not contain fluoride and some water filters remove it. Learn more about fluoride here.

Finally, limit the amount of juices. Kids who sip something like apple juice all day long, tend to get more decay than ones who only drink it at selected times.

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