tips for teeth
Say cheese! Flash a smile! Show your pearly whites! There are so many opportunities to show your teeth to the world, that’s why it’s so important to practice good dental health! But, did you know that good dental care can start before we even see teeth in a baby’s mouth?
“When children are born they already have 20 teeth, they just cannot be seen.” says Jasa Talarico, MD, pediatrician at Dayton Children’s Pediatrics at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Unfortunately, tooth decay can start as soon as teeth appear, but the good news is that tooth decay is preventable.”
Here are some tips to make the most of cleaning your child’s teeth:
- Even before your baby starts teething, run a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to clear away harmful bacteria. This can begin during the first few days after birth. When your baby gets teeth, brush them with an infant toothbrush.
- When two of your baby's teeth touch, you can begin flossing between them. This should be done once a day.
- For children younger than 3, use a toothpaste smear the size of a grain of rice. For children 3 to 6, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Use fluoride toothpaste that carries the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance. Fluoride helps prevent cavities.
-Brush teeth morning and night. Do not use too much toothpaste. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 40% of kids age 3 to 6 were using too much toothpaste, which could lead to streaks on the teeth.
- Around age 2, your child should learn to spit while brushing. Avoid giving your child water to swish and spit because this can make swallowing toothpaste more likely.
“While kids should learn to brush their teeth themselves, parents should stay in the room to monitor,” says Dr. Talarico. “That way they can ensure the right amount of toothpaste is being used, the child isn’t swallowing too much and that the child is continuing to develop good brushing habits.”
Be sure to visit the dentist by the time your child turns 1 year old. At this appointment, the dentist can go over everything you need to know to keep your child’s mouth healthy. Routine visits should continue every six months.
“It’s also a good idea to limit sugary foods, juices and candies,” says Dr. Talarico. “Sugar is a big contributor to tooth decay.”
With these tips, you’ll be able to keep your child’s smiles shining not only in February’s National Children's Dental Health Month, but every day!