ALL YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN’S DENTAL HEALTH ANSWERED
The ISPPD (Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry) commemorates November as National Children’s Dental Health Month. To celebrate, we have answered some of the most commonly asked questions our dentists often hear regarding children’s dental care.
WHEN SHOULD I TAKE MY CHILD FOR THEIR FIRST DENTAL CHECK-UP?
A good rule of thumb is to bring your child to the dentist when their first tooth appears, or by their first birthday. Early appointments teach you how to properly care for your child’s teeth while also creating a certain comfort level for your child in the dental chair.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TAKE MY CHILD TO THE DENTIST?
Our dentists recommend you bring your child every six months for a check-up. This will help avoid cavities and other dental problems down the road. It also provides adequate time for your dentist to monitor your child’s development and identify any potential issues earlier rather than later.
WHAT AGE SHOULD CHILDREN START USING TOOTHPASTE, AND HOW MUCH SHOULD BE USED?
The recommended age to start using fluoridated toothpaste on children is 3. Until then, clean your child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Once your child has reached the age of three, parents should allow them to use no more than pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
WHAT IS THE BEST KIND OF TOOTHBRUSH FOR CHILDREN?
Look for a toothbrush that has a small head and soft, nylon bristles. Many children’s toothbrushes have age ratings included on the packaging. Pro Tip: Finding a colorful brush with lights or pictures of their favorite cartoon characters may help your child get excited for their twice-daily brushing sessions. Children can begin using electric brushes between the ages of 5-7. Many electric brushes have fun Bluetooth technology that allow you to monitor your child’s brushing habits from an app on your phone.
WHEN SHOULD CHILDREN START FLOSSING?
Flossing removes the food particles and plaque that gets lodged between teeth. Starting around four years old, gently begin flossing your children’s teeth. However, if your child has teeth that are touching before the age of 4 then you should go ahead and begin flossing earlier. Most kids can start flossing for themselves around eight years old, but be careful to monitor their flossing habits for the first few years to build a solid foundation of good dental hygiene.
HOW DOES DIET AFFECT A CHILD’S DENTAL HEALTH?
Sugars and starches found in many snack foods are a direct cause of tooth decay in children. Establish a healthy, balanced diet to keep their teeth strong. In addition to the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals suggested by pediatric physicians, make sure your child is getting plenty of calcium to keep their bones and teeth cavity-free.
Check your water supply for fluoride, which helps strengthen teeth. If your water does not contain fluoride, talk to your dentist about supplementing their fluoride intake.
WHAT IF MY CHILD HAS A TOOTHACHE?
Use warm salt water to rinse the area that hurts. If you notice swelling in the child’s face, apply a cold compress. Do not place heat or aspirin directly to the sore tooth or gums. Instead, experts recommend giving them children’s acetaminophen orally because it treats pain and soreness more effectively. Then, to make sure everything is okay, call and schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist so they can thoroughly examine the tooth.
WHEN SHOULD I STOP PACIFIER USE?
It’s recommended by the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry that you should begin limiting or stop pacifier use after the baby is 6-month-old. Any usage after 6 months is linked to an increase in ear infections. By age 2 your child should no longer be using a pacifier.
WHEN SHOULD I STOP MY CHILD’S THUMB SUCKING?
Although it can vary case by case, thumb sucking usually does not pose a problem to teeth formation unless it continues once their permanent teeth begin to appear. Children typically quit the habit themselves before they require intervention, but some dentists recommended mouth guards or other dental devices if thumb sucking continues with the permanent teeth. As a general role, you should discourage thumb-sucking after age 2.
HOW DO SEALANTS WORK?
Dental sealants fill in cracks found on the chewing surfaces of teeth, keeping decay-causing food particles from getting stuck in those small crevices that are hard to brush. Talk to your child’s dentist about sealants at the child’s next appointment. Application is quick and sealants can effectively protects their teeth for many years to come.
As a parents, the best resource available to you is a trusted dentist. Self-education is also important. Our dentists recommend the following websites for valuable information about your children’s dental health: