February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Developing good oral hygiene habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits help children get a great start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
Brushing and Flossing
Dental hygiene should begin when your child is a baby. Start using a soft child-size toothbrush around the age of 1 or 2. Ideally, you should brush your child’s teeth using water at least twice a day. While your little one is still too young to spit out toothpaste, you can brush using a small amount of a toothpaste that does not contain fluoride. This type of toothpaste is safe for your child to swallow. Once they are old enough to spit out the toothpaste, you can switch to one that has fluoride.
Most children need help brushing their teeth until they are 7 or 8 years old. Around this time, they can begin using a larger toothbrush. Children should brush their teeth for 2 minutes. We recommend changing toothbrushes every 3 to 6 months. Flossing is also an important part of your child’s oral care routine. Encourage your child to floss at least once a day. To make it easier for them, you can buy floss that comes on a handle. At every patient visit, the dental hygienists at Park Crossing Dentistry provide oral hygiene instructions.
The Role of Fluoride
Fluoride is important to your child’s dental health. It is known to reduce cavities in both baby teeth and adult teeth. Fluoride also helps make teeth strong by hardening the tooth enamel. Most children get fluoride in their drinking water. Your South Charlotte dentist gives a fluoride treatment to children at each visit.
Children who eat a lot of sugary foods and drinks are at a higher risk for cavities. That is one reason why it is important to make healthy food choices. We discourage giving your children a lot of soda, fruit juice, or sweet snacks. Water is the preferred beverage. Chewing celery and other crunchy veggies help “scrub” teeth and are a good alternative to snacks containing sugar.
Make dental hygiene fun for your kids with these tips:
- Let them help pick which toothpaste to use. They can choose their favorite flavor.
- Let them help pick out their toothbrush. They will enjoy choosing a brush with their favorite character or color.
- Read fun books that talk about dental hygiene.
- While brushing, play their favorite song to make sure they brush for 2 minutes. The time will go by faster for them.
- A reward will encourage most children to brush, but don’t give them sugary treats.
- After visiting the dentist (every 6 months), plan an activity they love.