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Dental Health for Children

February is Children’s Dental Health Month and it’s important that your child’s oral health is

important to their overall health. Dental health begins from when your child gets their first

tooth. Tooth decay can occur in babies if their teeth are not being taken care of so it’s essential

that you start your child off well with good dental habits.


As soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts, you should begin toothbrushing with a soft-bristled

toothbrush specifically designed for infants and toothpaste containing fluoride. You only need

to use a small amount (the size of a grain of rice) until they reach the age of 3 and should clean

twice a day, generally after breakfast and before bedtime. After 3, you can use a pea-sized

amount of toothpaste. Once your child is able to swish and spit on their own, they can start

using a normal amount of toothpaste. Typically, this happens when a child reaches 5 or 6 years

of age.


Teach your kids the proper way to brush their teeth. Your child’s dentist can also assist in this

process. If your child has a hard time sticking to their cleaning routine, consider using music or a

counting game to keep them engaged in brushing for two minutes, twice per day (which is the

recommended amount of time). Young children should be assisted or supervised until they

reach about the age of 10 or when they mastered cleaning their teeth on their own. Also, as the

back molars are the most common teeth to get cavities, it’s important to make sure that the

brush goes all the way back in the mouth and to teach your child how to do this when they

begin brushing their own teeth.


Fluoride is very important for your child’s dental health. Fluoride is a natural mineral that can

help prevent cavities and keep the teeth strong. It can rebuild the enamel on the teeth and

protect the teeth from damage. Fluoride can be found in drinking water and toothpaste.

Flossing is another important step in the cleaning process. Flossing gets rid of plaque and food

in between teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach. If plaque is not removed, it can harden and

turn into tartar, which can lead to gum disease. Teach your kids how to properly floss between

their teeth. For older kids with braces or fixed retainers, they will need floss products like water

flossers and tooth picks that are designed for those specifically.


If you decide to use mouthwash to maintain your child’s oral health, it is recommended that

you wait until they are 6 or 7 years old, since younger children are at a higher risk of

accidentally swallowing it. Make sure to teach your child how to rinse with mouthwash and let

them know that it’s not safe to swallow it. It’s also best to use mouthwash that is alcohol-free.

In addition to practicing good hygiene habits, it’s also important to pay attention to your child’s

diet as it plays a key role in their dental health. Limit the amount of sugar that they consume, including sugary beverages. Sugar can cause bacteria on your child’s teeth to grow, leading to

cavities.


Always keep up with your child’s dental visits for routine cleaning and checkups. Doing so can

ensure that any potential issues such as cavities are addressed early to prevent the problems

from worsening.

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