Child Dental Health

by: Seth Miller for

You should start taking care of your childs dental health even before the childs first tooth comes in. To begin with, wipe your baby’s gums with a soft damp cloth after feedings. That helps to prevent the buildup of bacteria. When teeth begin to show up, start using a soft children’s toothbrush twice a day.

As your child reaches preschool age, brush his teeth with a tiny quantity of fluoride toothpaste. Kids have a tendency to swallow toothpaste, and too much fluoride can lead to permanent stains on their teeth. Fluoride strengthens teeth by hardening the tooth enamel. If your tap water lacks fluoride, your doctor may prescribe daily fluoride tablets when your child is about six months old. Although fluoride is a vital part of your child’s dental health, its overuse should be avoided.

Children generally suffer from cavities, i.e., holes that are formed when bacteria in ones mouth use the sugar in food to make acid which eats away at the teeth. To prevent cavities, avoid giving your child too many sugary foods like raisins, cookies and candy, and sweet drinks like fruit juice. If your child was born prematurely, weighed very little at birth, has ongoing special health care needs or has white spots or brown areas on any teeth, he/she might develop cavities.

All family members should take care of their teeth, as they can pass the cavity-causing bacteria to children. Apart from brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, everyone should see the dentist twice a year.

Avoid giving your child sweets, sticky foods and between-meal snacks. Follow a regular schedule for meals and snacks. Fresh fruits and vegetables, and cheese and crackers are good for teeth. Do not let your child walk around with a bottle, and teach him to use a drinking cup as soon as possible. Thumb sucking is normal for children unless it persists after age 4. It is advised that parents take their child to a dentist around his first birthday.

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