Pediatric Dentistry – Preventing Tooth Decay from Baby to Teen
The American Dental Association (ADA) reminds parents that good oral hygiene habits must be instilled in children from a very young age to protect their overall health. Oral hygiene is significantly correlated with risk of disease. Poor oral health is a prevalent issue in the United States—not only is tooth decay the second most common health problem in the U.S., but more than 60 percent of adolescents have some sort of gum disease. Cavities and gum disease can easily be prevented with proper dental care and routine visits to a pediatric dentistry specialist. Use this guide to teach your children all about pediatric dental care starting before their first tooth erupts.
Early Pediatric Dental Care for Babies and Toddlers
- You can begin preparing your baby for proper dental care by wiping his or her gums after each feeding with a clean, wet cloth.
- When your child’s first tooth erupts, use an ADA-approved toothbrush designed for a child’s teeth and plain water to familiarize them with the habit.
- Make flossing a habit by flossing as soon as two of your child’s teeth touch.
- Visits to a pediatric dentistry practitioner should begin with the celebration of your child’s first birthday and continue on a routine basis through their teen years.
- After the age of two, begin brushing your child’s teeth using a pea-sized amount of ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
- Carefully supervise your children to ensure they do not swallow the toothpaste and are completing the task.
Dental Care for School-Age Children
- You should assist your children with twice-daily brushing using a child-sized toothbrush and pea-sized amount of toothpaste, up to age seven.
- Continue to assist your child in once-daily flossing until they feel confident in the skill.
- At age seven, your child should be able to brush their teeth twice a day with minimal supervision. You should observe for proper technique and thorough dental care through age 11.
- Maintain regular visits to an affordable pediatric dentist at Main Street Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics at least once every six months, or more, as the dentist recommends.
- Ask your pediatric dentist if he/she recommends sealants to aid cavity-prevention for your child.
- Involve your children in every step of the dental care process, from picking out their toothbrush and toothpaste and remembering to brush twice daily, to scheduling appointments with their pediatric dentistry specialist.
Advising Adolescents on Dental Care Habits
- By age 12 or 13, your teen should fully grasp how and when to brush their teeth and floss, but small reminders may be necessary. The overall importance of tooth brushing may not be fully embraced.
- If your teen has braces, encourage more frequent brushing and invest in the special oral cleaning tools and products to enhance orthodontic dental care.
- Make your teen aware of how certain foods can cause dental health to suffer and promote healthy eating habits.
- Continue to require your teen to visit the pediatric dentistry office twice per year.