Dental Health and Hygiene for Preschoolers
Healthy teeth and gums are vital to your child’s overall health. As per CDC, cavities or tooth decay are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States.
Many parents assume that cavities in baby teeth don’t matter because those teeth will be lost anyway. It’s important to note here that while the baby teeth may not stick around for long, dental decay in baby teeth can negatively affect permanent teeth and lead to future dental problems. The good news is that cavities are preventable. Teaching good dental habits is the best way to protect your child’s teeth.
Preventing tooth decay:
Make good oral and dental hygiene a part of your child’s daily routine. Teaching your child good oral habits early on can help prevent cavities and tooth decay. Here are some tips to help prevent cavities:
1. Brushing their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste:
For kids over the age of two, use a pea-size drop of fluoride toothpaste on a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles. Make it fun by trying different flavors of toothpaste. It is important, however, to teach your child not to swallow but spit out the toothpaste once they are finished. Swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause white or brown spots on your child’s adult teeth.
At this age your child may be too young to have proper control over his brushing techniques. You’ll need to supervise and help them brush correctly, to ensure each tooth is cleaned thoroughly – top and bottom, inside and out. It is recommended that your child spend roughly two minutes brushing their teeth. You can set a timer to help ensure that your child is brushing long enough. Having your child brush their teeth to their favorite song is another creative way to make brushing time fun.
Flossing is another way to help your child prevent cavities, by removing plaque and keeping their gums healthy. You may use a floss holder to make it easier. Have your child sit in your lap facing a mirror, begin at the back of their mouth, and gently move the floss back and forth between all their teeth. When you think your child is ready, help and supervise them to ensure they are flossing adequately. Consult your child’s dentist for further guidance on taking care of your child’s pearly whites to ensure when their permanent teeth come in, they’ll continue to be healthy.
3. Avoid too much sugar:
Apart from good oral hygiene, your child’s diet also plays a very important role in maintaining good dental health. Encourage your child to eat a more nutritious and balanced meal with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods as healthy snacks. Keep sugary snacks and drinks to a minimum. Encourage your child to drink more water to help prevent tooth decay. If you live in an area where the water is not fluoridated or your child drinks bottled water, talk to your child’s pediatrician for more guidance on fluoride supplements.
4. Regular Dental Check-ups:
Regular dental check-ups are crucial to maintain the oral health of children. Your child should start seeing a dentist as soon as they have developed their first tooth. Ideally, you should take your child to the dentist every six months. Regular visits allow your child’s dentist to detect early signs of dental disease and decay. A dentist will check your child’s teeth to ensure that everything is developing correctly and that missing or crooked teeth are watched. The dentist will also help understand and demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques to you and your child.
Bringing your child to the dentist twice a year, from an early age will help them acclimatize to the dental office environment, build up your child’s comfort and confidence, reduces anxiety and fear about the dentist, leading to stress-free visits in the future.