Caring for your child’s teeth doesn’t have to be complicated. Remembering that children’s teeth are important for their overall health will motivate you to develop good habits for them until they can take care of their own teeth.
Children’s teeth are more susceptible to dental decay because enamel, the hard outer layer that protects teeth from decay, is much thinner on baby teeth than adult teeth. Once formed, tooth decay can grow quickly on baby teeth so it is critical to prevent tooth decay from forming in the first place.
Here is how to care for your child’s teeth:
Brush twice daily, preferably soon after a meal and especially before going to bed. Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children over the age of 2.
Use soft-bristled toothbrush. Show your child how to hold the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum and gently brush on all surfaces of teeth.
Floss between teeth that are close together before going to bed.
Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of exposures to carbohydrate-containing foods such as crackers, bread, soda, juice, candy and milk. For example, one cup of milk consumed with lunch counts as one exposure. However, one cup of milk in a sippy cup consumed over one afternoon counts as multiple exposures.
Ask your dentist about dental sealants applied to chewing surfaces of molars to protect them from decay.
Have your child visit the dentist by age one and have them receive regular cleanings and exams to check for early signs of dental decay.
The best way to motivate your child to develop good oral hygiene habits is to show them how you brush and floss your own teeth. Be available to assist them until they can effectively brush on their own around the age of 8.