Having a healthy smile begins in infancy. Keeping a healthy smile means good dental practices every day. At Pediatric Dentistry of Noblesville, our goal is to provide each of our patients with smiles that will last a lifetime. Parents must help their children take care of their teeth! Tooth decay is 100% preventable!
Baby Teeth are Important!
Tooth decay can develop as soon as the first tooth appears. It’s important to care for your child’s baby teeth because they act as placeholders for adult teeth.
How to care for your child’s teeth.
Birth to 12 months
Good dental habits should begin before the first tooth appears. After feedings, gently brush your baby’s gums using water on a baby toothbrush that has soft bristles. Wiping the teeth with a clean washcloth is a good alternative.
Ask about fluoride.
After the first tooth appears, ask your child’s dentist if your baby is getting enough fluoride. Many experts recommend using a fluoride-free toothpaste before age 2, but check with your child’s doctor or dentist first.
Eating and Tooth Decay
Parents, especially if they have a history of cavities, can pass germs that cause cavities and gum disease to their children. Cavity causing germs can be spread when parents share food, drinks, or utensils with their children. It is important for parents to refrain from cleansing pacifiers with their mouths.
12 to 24 months
Brush your child’s teeth 2 times a day using water on a small toothbrush that has soft bristles. Encourage your child to drink white milk and water. Juices and sodas contain large amounts of sugar that will cause cavities very quickly!
Consult with your child’s dentist about sucking habits. Sucking too strongly on a pacifier, a thumb, or fingers can affect the shape of the mouth and how the top and bottom teeth line up.
24 months and older
Brush! Help your child brush their teeth 2 times a day with a child-sized toothbrush that has soft bristles. There are brushes designed to address the different needs of children at all ages.
Encourage children to brush on their own. However, to make sure your child’s teeth are clean, you should brush them again. If your child doesn’t want their teeth brushed, it may help to turn it into a game. For example, the toothbrush can look upstairs and downstairs in the mouth for missing treasures in the teeth.
Use a fluoridated toothpaste. You can start using a fluoridated toothpaste, which helps prevent cavities. Teach your child not to swallow it. Use a pea-sized amount or less and smear the paste into the bristles.
You can begin flossing your child’s teeth as soon as two teeth touch each other. Not all children need their teeth flossed at this age, so check with your dentist first.
The following are other ways parents can help prevent tooth decay in their babies and children:
If you put your child to bed with a bottle, fill it only with water.
If your child drinks from a bottle or sippy cup, make sure to fill it only with water when it’s not mealtime.
If your child wants a snack, offer healthy snacks like fruits or vegetables, (to avoid choking, make sure anything you give your child is soft, easy to swallow, and cut into small pieces no larger than one-half inch). Avoid sweet or sticky snacks like candy, cookies, or Fruit Roll-Ups.
There is sugar in foods like crackers and chips, too. They should be eaten at mealtime.
If your child drinks milk at bedtime, make sure to clean their teeth afterward. Don’t let your child sip drinks that have sugar and acid, like juices, sports drinks, flavored drinks, lemonade, soda pop, or flavored teas.