Becoming a parent instantly draws certain privileges and an incredible load of responsibility. You will take care of your children and make sure they grow up happy, healthy, and strong, but in order to do that, you will need to master a lot of skills. You will become a professional chef, preparing wonderful and imaginative meals for your kids, your collection of games and stories will amaze even you, and you will become incredibly strict when it comes to health and hygiene. Safety and health of your child depend on many factors and oral hygiene is one of them. Here’s what you should know about your child’s teeth.
Keep an eye on thumb sucking
When children are small, they will sometimes suck their thumbs if they can’t get their pacifiers. Parents usually don’t mind this habit because it helps keep the kids calm, but as natural as this reflex is, it can be very bad for your children’s teeth. While it gives the children a sense of security and helps them fall asleep if they do this for too long and too often, it can result in severe dental problems later on in life. Of course, sometimes they will just suck on their thumb for a while and fall asleep peacefully, but you should still keep an eye on them and often check to see how long they keep it up and with what intensity. If they keep sucking their thumb intensely even after they fall asleep, or if they do it for longer periods of time, even when they are awake, you should consult your dentist and ask for advice. This is because this habit can actually disrupt tooth alignment and negatively affect proper teeth growth in children.
Signs of teeth problems
While it doesn’t do you any good worrying about your children’s teeth all the time, you should still be aware of the early signs of teeth problems in children. When they are small, they might not be able to communicate their discomfort or pain in clear worlds, and it’s up to you to notice and identify and problems instead. If children’s teeth are shaky and you notice that they have difficulty while eating, you should take them to see a dentist as soon as possible. Also, while bad breath can be a sign that they skipped brushing, prolonged bad breath might actually be a sign of tooth decay or bacterial infection. Even if you don’t notice any signs of problems, getting your child to a dentist at least twice a year is recommended. This way, you will be able to get some preventive treatments such as fluoride treatments or perhaps dental sealants done early on to prevent any complications in the future. Besides, a professional will be able to spot signs of tooth alignment issues and gum disease much faster.
Be mindful of germs and bacteria
If you have more than one child and they happen to be close in age, things can be difficult. Remembering whose pacifier you have in your hand and whose sippy cup is on the table seems irrelevant, but you should pay special attention to these details. When eating meals at the table, make sure everyone has their own spoon and fork and don’t share utensils. Also, kids shouldn’t share sippy cups and bottles either, and pacifiers are out of the question too. Not just among siblings, but they shouldn’t be shared in the kindergarten and in playgroups either. Bacteria in our mouth are very easy to pass to other people, and the very fact that more than one child is going to be putting the same thing in their mouth isn’t healthy. Any such things and items that are going in your baby’s mouth should be sanitized regularly even if they’re not shared, so that any possible bacterial infections such as thrush can be prevented.
Teach them to brush their teeth early
Brushing teeth every day is a habit that’s hard for kids to adopt, which is where parents step in. As soon as your child get their first teeth, it’s up to you to brush them using a baby toothbrush and a bit of water. Keep this up until they are about two, as this is the age when they usually learn to spit. If they don’t know how to spit yet, keep brushing with just water until they do, and after that, you can put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride onto their toothbrush. Brushing your kids’ teeth is not a hard task; all you have to do is develop a comfortable routine first:
1) Hold your child so that you can clearly see the inside of their mouth
2) Put the toothbrush against their gums, and
3) Using short and gentle strokes, brush back and forth, trying to cover the whole surface of each of their teeth.
You can make this into a game if you get them a quality toothbrush that has their favorite cartoon character or in their favorite color. You could also use your stopwatch to encourage them to brush their teeth for a couple of minutes too.
Teach them to spit toothpaste
Speaking of spitting toothpaste, it’s not an easy skill for kids to master. While some get the hang of it by the time they are three, some don’t learn to spit the toothpaste out until they are four. This isn’t a concern for parents, and the only thing you should worry about is finding the right toothpaste for them to use. Luckily, children’s toothpaste is generally sweet, and kids love using them because they look and smell delicious, and the only thing they should remember is not to swallow it. When they learn that toothpaste should be spat out when they brush their teeth, teach them to wash their toothbrush afterward but not to rinse their mouth with water. This is because toothpaste contains minerals that are going to be “soaked” into the teeth and make them stronger if they aren’t rinsed off with water immediately.
You can lower the risk of tooth decay
Adults know a lot about tooth repairs and how painful it is, and parents have a good chance to prevent it from happening in the first place by showing a good example and encouraging healthy habits. Kids love sweet things: sugary drinks, ice-cream, and candy, but these are terrible for their teeth. Try to limit their intake of sweets and sugary drinks, and if you do give it to them, have them brush their teeth after or just rinse their mouth with water. It’s a good idea to give your child sugary snacks at one time in the day (in the morning or in the afternoon, never in the evening), and when they finish eating, have them drink a glass of water and brush their teeth a bit. This way, their mouth won’t be acidic for a long time, and you will significantly lower the risk of tooth decay.
Teach them to floss
While their teeth are growing, it’s easy to take care of them, and the risks of complications are very low. When their teeth start touching each other, however, it becomes much more difficult to remove food leftovers, plaque, and other bacteria with just brushing. Cavities between teeth are very common and difficult to get rid of, so teaching your child to floss every day is very important. You can do it in a fun and exciting way by taking a lot of floss (about 18 inches) and winding the most of it around both of your middle fingers. You can do it several times for them just so they understand what should be done, and let them practice on their own later. Teach them to use their thumbs and index fingers to hold the floss in place and instruct them to move their hands back-and-forth gently while guiding the floss between the teeth. Both you and they have to be very gentle because gums are sensitive, and you can hurt them easily if you floss too vigorously. If your child struggles with flossing, you can always talk to your dentist and ask them or a few tips, or you can have a dentist show them how to floss on one of their appointments.
Be prepared for permanent teeth
While getting their first set of teeth is an unpleasant experience for the entire family, losing baby teeth is a piece of cake. These teeth usually start falling out when kids turn five or six, and by the time they are nine, they should have around a dozen permanent teeth. By the age of 12, all of your child’s milk teeth should fall out. While the idea of losing teeth is terrifying for most adults, kids don’t find this to be scary at all. What is more, they might play with their loose teeth in fascination until they fall out (or until they pull them out on their own). Once their permanent teeth are grown, switch from mild and sweet children’s toothpaste to a “full strength” adult toothpaste. This is because permanent teeth are stronger and thus need more protection in the first place, and by his time, children should have developed the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day.
Debunk the fear of dentists
One of the main reasons people have serious problems with their oral health and hygiene is their fear of dentists. This is where parents step in and help pave the road to a healthy relationship with dentists and healthy teeth. When your child gets their first tooth, feel free to pick up your phone and schedule an appointment with a good dentist. Make sure you schedule this visit within six months since the first tooth has grown, but keep in mind that it shouldn’t be before your child turns one. This early visit is the first step towards ensuring that your child has good dental health their entire life. Keep up these visits, and even have your dentist brush your child’s teeth and explain what they’re doing. This will ensure that your child won’t be afraid to go to the dentist and have regular checkups later on. When they’re used to visiting the dentist from early childhood, parents will have fewer problems too as the dentist will explain to kids the importance of brushing their teeth and flossing as well.
The right time for braces
One of the imperatives of beauty in this day and age has to be pearly white and perfectly straight teeth. While some choose to get braces later on in life because they want their teeth to look beautiful, sometimes braces are necessary for medical reasons. As children grow, their jaws change, and getting braces too early is pointless. This is why the right time for braces for children is a question that parents ask dentists the most. The simplest answer is that braces give the best results when children are growing rapidly, as it allows their teeth to be guided in place more easily. This is because the face grows too, and this growth spurt can be used to get the best result with as little trouble as possible. For girls, this means the age between 11 and 14, while for boys it between 12 and 15 on average. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they are too late if they choose to get braces later on in life.
This seems like too much to take in at once, but don’t worry. Nobody expects you to become a dental care professional for the sake of your child’s teeth, but knowing a thing or two about oral health will help both you and your child in the long run. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down and be strict when it comes to brushing and flossing – you being strict today will mean that your child is going to have great teeth in the future. Turn oral hygiene into a fun game and instill good habits early on, and your children will thank you later.