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3150 North Elm Street, Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408

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August 21, 2020

Children’s Dental Health Tips for Parents

Parents often have a tough time judging how much dental care their kids need. They know they want to prevent cavities, but they don't always know the best way to teach these to their children. Although your little one’s primary teeth are temporary and will eventually be replaced by permanent, adult teeth, their baby teeth are essential for development and their lifelong oral health.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), it is very important to keep primary (or “baby”) teeth in place until they are lost naturally. The primary teeth are important for many reasons including:

  • Helping children chew properly to maintain good nutrition
  • Involvement in speech development
  • Helping save space for permanent teeth
  • Promoting a healthy smile that helps children feel good about the way they look

Here are some additional tips and guidelines to keep your children’s teeth happy and healthy in their formative years.

Start brushing your child’s teeth even if you don’t see them yet.
Just because you can’t see the teeth doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Teeth begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy and at birth, a baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw. Even if your baby hasn’t started teething yet, run a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to clear away harmful bacteria. When your baby gets teeth, use water and a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) on an infant toothbrush to brush their teeth. Once they get two teeth touching, you can begin to floss between them.

Start good oral habits early.
Teach kids to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to floss regularly. Around age 2, your child should be learning to spit while brushing their teeth and once they are 3, they can use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. It is recommended to always supervise kids younger than 8 while brushing, as they’re more likely to swallow toothpaste.

Know when to start taking your children to the dentist.
Dr. Szott recommends starting your child coming to the dentist at age 3, to get them friendly and happy with their dentist. Waiting longer for their first trip increases your child’s risk of having to deal with plaque buildup and cavities for their visit, and this might build fear in an already anxious situation. Also starting early gives the dentist an opportunity to spot issues early on and take action to reduce the cost and severity of future treatments. A plan that will make both parent and child a lot happier.

Limit or avoid some foods.
Sugary foods, juices, and candy can erode your teeth’s enamel and cause cavities. If your child eats any of these foods, have them rinse their mouth out or brush their teeth after eating to wash away the sugar. Even babies can get tooth decay. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle can harm their teeth because sugars from juice, formula, or milk that stay on their teeth for hours can eat away at the enamel.
As your child grows up, plan on routine dental checkups, depending on your dentist’s recommendation, and limit sugary foods. By encouraging regular brushing and flossing from a young age you will allow your child to have the best start to good dental health.


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3150 North Elm Street
Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408
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