A healthy smile at a young age will help your child enjoy greater oral health throughout their life and reduce their risk of developing serious conditions such as tooth decay, periodontal disease, and loss of adult teeth. Your child’s oral hygiene should be a combination of preventive dentistry and at-home dental care.
How can a dentist care for my child’s teeth?
Your child should begin seeing a dentist for checkups by 12 months of age, and return every 6 months or as instructed by the dentist. During checkups, the dentist examines your child’s teeth, dental development, and jaw growth for early signs of decay and alignment issues. Depending on your child’s condition, our dentist may also perform a gentle dental cleaning and recommend preventive treatments such as topical fluoride and dental sealants.
How can I help at home?
Proper oral care goes beyond regular brushing and flossing to include many factors, such as:
- Diet: A well-balanced diet that is low in sugar can benefit your child’s teeth. Reduce sugary and acidic foods, especially between mealtimes, and provide healthy alternatives like low-fat yogurt, carrot sticks, celery sticks, and apples.
- Oral care: Provide your child with an orthodontic-approved pacifier and monitor oral habits such as thumb sucking for any signs of a developing alignment problem.
- General oral hygiene: Do not share eating utensils with your child or clean pacifiers by sticking them in your mouth. This can transfer harmful, cavity-causing bacteria to your child.
- Sippy cup use: Sippy cups filled with milk, breast milk, sugar water, soda, or juice leave sugar on the surface of your child’s teeth, increasing the risk of baby bottle tooth decay. Provide your child with water between meals and cease sippy cup use between the ages of 12 and 14 months.
- Brushing flossing: Brush your child’s teeth or have them brush their own teeth at least twice a day with ADA-approved toothpaste (non-fluoridated before the age of 2). If your child hasn’t teethed yet, rub their gums with a clean cloth after each feeding. Our dentist can help demonstrate how to gently and thoroughly floss between your child’s teeth and make flossing more fun.
- Fluoride: Fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel, but too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, which creates white specks on the teeth. Speak with the dentist about whether your child needs to increase or decrease their fluoride intake.
Do you have more questions about your child’s oral health? Call Dr. Michael Lemme and our team at 360-675-3334 today to learn more about caring for your child’s teeth in Oak Harbor, Washington.