Since good oral hygiene habits like brushing and getting regular cleanings are essential parts of lifetime dental health, it’s important to get your children used to preventive dental care long before their adult teeth grow in. Since children’s dentistry varies in several ways from adult dentistry, here are a few tips to get you started if you’re navigating the world of pediatric dentistry for the first time:
- Respecting Baby Teeth
Baby teeth fall out, so there’s no reason to take care of them, right? Wrong. First of all, baby teeth are important for keeping proper spacing for adult teeth. This means that it’s worth keeping them healthy so that they don’t fall out too soon. Secondly, the habits your child builds caring for her baby teeth will likely follow her all the way to adulthood. And thirdly, brushing and flossing affect gum and overall oral health, not just teeth.
- Brushing Together
Good children’s dentistry starts at home with good brushing and flossing. One way to teach your children that brushing and flossing are normal, essential parts of a daily routine is to make sure they see you brushing, too; often, kids who go to sleep long before you get ready for bed may think that brushing is a special burden you put on them alone. So get out your toothbrush along with them, spending two minutes brushing and one minute flossing.
- Finding the Right Dentist
Getting your kid to the dentist as soon as the first tooth becomes visible is important when it comes to making your child feel comfortable at the dentist’s. But don’t just go anywhere: Find a dentist for kids, specifically. If your children are feeling anxious about a dental appointment, you can get them used to the idea by playing dentist at home, having them open wide so you can count their teeth. Then let them take a turn, playing dentist on a doll or stuffed animal.
- Taking Action Early
Dental decay starts earlier than you probably expect. More than a quarter of 2- to 5-year-olds show signs of dental decay, and children are extremely prone to cavities between the ages of 6 and 14. One type of preventive dental care that is particularly beneficial for children and teens is the application of tooth sealants. These prevent food and plaque from building up in molar crevices, which can be difficult to clean even with good brushing and flossing habits. Sealants should be applied to molars as soon as they come in to best guard against decay.
Do you have any other tips to share when it comes to children’s dentistry? Join the discussion in the comments.
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