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Kids’ Oral Health Tips from Johns Creek Children’s Dentist

Homework, soccer practice, family time, household chores, and work keep most parents extraordinarily busy. Where’s the time for teaching good oral healthcare to your children and ensuring the routine is followed? There are excellent reasons to make time for children’s dental care. Here’s one for you: kids who don’t have good oral health “miss more school and receive lower grades than kids who don’t.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over half of kids ages 6 to 8 have experienced tooth decay in one or more baby teeth. Furthermore, over half of kids 12 to 19 have one or more cavities in permanent teeth. 

Parents, you can take steps to instill good daily oral health habits in your kiddos from a very young age. Then, as they grow up, they’ll know the routine and–with a little prompting–will practice good oral health habits to help them retain their natural teeth for decades, hopefully for their entire lifetime!

In today’s blog, the pediatric dentists at Children’s Dental Zone in Johns Creek share dental care tips to help your kids reduce or prevent cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and other oral health problems. With some initial instruction and overseeing from a parent or caregiver, your kids may not have to endure restorative dental procedures. 

The Best Daily Oral Health Care Routine for Kids

It’s important to use age-appropriate tools and products for daily oral care at home. Here’s a short list of the basics by age group. If you have questions, please call our Johns Creek Pediatric Dentist’s office at 770-777-1222 today. 

Babies Under 3 Years

Un-fluoridated toothpaste – Since little tots tend to swallow toothpaste, purchase non-fluoridated toothpaste for them until they’re about three years of age. At this age, toddlers can understand how to spit out their used toothpaste, instead of swallowing it. 

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, but if swallowed every day for years, it can cause permanent, white, horizontal lines on adult teeth, which are developing beneath the gums. This condition is known as fluorosis, and while it’s not harmful, the lines can create esthetic concerns. Teeth whitening will not remove fluorosis lines. 

Small toothbrush – To wipe out the mouths of infants after feedings, a soft, wet cloth works well. Once a tooth erupts, twice-a-day brushing should begin. Purchase a toothbrush of the appropriate size for your child’s age.

Floss – Begin daily flossing of your child’s teeth as soon as multiple teeth erupt. You can use any type of floss, but consider pre-threaded flossers. They make flossing easy, especially for tiny mouths. 

Here are a few more tips for parents of toddlers:

  • Children should stop pacifier use by 24 to 30 months of age to avoid orthodontic issues.
  • Never allow your baby to go to bed with a bottle unless it contains pure water. 
  • Teach your little one to rinse and spit with water after eating. This will reduce the sugars and starches that cause cavities. 

Children 3 and Older

Brushing – Kids who brush with fluoride toothpaste every day will have fewer cavities than those who don’t, per the CDC. Allowing your children to choose their toothpaste, toothbrush, floss or flossers, and mouthwash will help them take ownership of their oral health care. Just make sure they select a toothbrush that’s made for their age group, with soft bristles.

To teach proper brushing habits, you can use a timer. Some kids’ toothbrushes have built-in timers and lights. Each brushing session should last two minutes to achieve optimal results. Kids should brush after breakfast and after dinner. 

Flossing – Everyone should floss once a day, before bed. Flossing removes food particles and plaque from between teeth and at the gum line. It reduces the potential for cavities, as well as gingivitis (gum disease) and halitosis (bad breath). 

Until a child is 8 to 10 years old, she will likely need help flossing. At the least, inspect your child’s work and perform touch-ups as needed. 

Rinsing – Teach your child the habit of going to the restroom and rinsing his mouth with water after meals. He should swish the water all around the mouth and tongue, as well as the very back of the mouth where food gets trapped on and between molars. 

Eating – A person’s diet affects oral health, as well as overall health. Limit the amount of sugar (cakes, cookies, pies, donuts, sodas, sugary cereals, sports drinks, juices, and candy) your child consumes. Starches, including sugar, contribute to cavity development.

Also, calcium is important for strong teeth and bones. Your child should drink milk or consume calcium in other ways. Calcium is found in cheese, yogurt, edamame, almonds, winter squash, and sardines, as well as some other foods. You can also find juices and cereals fortified with calcium.

Professional Dental Care for Children and Teens

Checkups and cleanings – In addition to twice-daily oral care at home, children (and parents) should have a checkup and cleaning every six months. Checkups and x-rays allow us to detect dental issues early before they become bigger problems. This is true of cavities, as well as gum disease. At dental cleanings, our hygienists remove hardened dental plaque, called tartar, from teeth. Cleanings also reduce the potential for both cavities and gum disease.

Other important considerations:

  • Fluoride varnish – prevents 33% of cavities in primary teeth; use fluoridated tap water instead of bottled water
  • Dental sealants – prevent 80% of cavities; sealant can be applied as early as the eruption of a baby’s first tooth
  • Orthodontic exam – your child needs an ortho exam by age seven; phase one orthodontics in children reduce the risk of orthodontic and oral health issues later in life
  • Restorative dental care – if your child needs a filling, crown, or extraction, don’t delay; cavities in baby teeth can harm developing teeth beneath the gums, so they need to be treated

Your Johns Creek Children’s Dentists Are Here for You!

To schedule your children’s dental appointments, call Children’s Dental Zone today at 770-777-1222 or message us online. We partner with parents to help kids establish good oral health habits early in life. Good oral home care, combined with six-month checkups and cleanings, will set your kids up for a lifetime of healthy smiles. 

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