Many parents 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 do so. Here 18 important ways to care for your child’s teeth:
Caring for your baby’s teeth
-At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw.
-Even before your baby starts teething, run a clean damp washcloth over the gums to rid it of harmful bacteria.
As soon as your baby begins to grow teeth, brush them with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). Use NAFDAC-approved fluoride toothpaste.
-(If you are using baby toothpaste without the fluoride, keep it to the same amount because you still want to minimize any toothpaste that is swallowed.)
-Even babies can develop tooth decay if good feeding habits aren’t practiced. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle might be convenient, but can harm the baby’s teeth. When the sugars from juice or milk remain on a baby’s teeth for hours, they can eat away at the enamel, creating a condition known as ‘bottle mouth’. Pocked, pitted, or discoloured front teeth are signs of bottle mouth at babyhood.
-Once your baby’s teeth begin to touch, you can begin flossing in between them.
– Babies as young as 6 months are encouraged to switch from a bottle to a sippy cup (with a straw or hard spout).
By 12 months of age, they’ll have the motor skills and coordination to use the cup on their own.
-At age 2, your child should learn to spit while brushing. Avoid giving your child water to swish and spit because this might make swallowing toothpaste more likely.
Kids ages 3 and up should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
-Always supervise kids younger than 6 while brushing, as they are more likely to swallow toothpaste.
-Parents and childcare providers should help young kids set specific times for drinking each day because sucking on a bottle throughout the day can be equally damaging to young teeth.
(2) VISITING THE DENTIST:
The Nigerian Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday. At this first visit, the dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques and do a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap.
(3) PREVENTING CAVITIES:
Cavities happen when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole — or cavity — forms.
Here’s how to keep cavities away:
-Start good oral habits early; teach kids to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to floss regularly.
-Get enough fluoride. Regular use of fluoride toughens the enamel, making it harder for acid to penetrate. If your water supply is not fluoridated or if your family uses purified water, ask your dentist for fluoride supplements.
-Most toothpastes contain fluoride but toothpaste alone will not fully protect a child’s teeth. Be careful, however, since too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration. Check with your dentist before supplementing.
-Limit or avoid certain foods. Sugary foods, juices, candy (especially sticky gummy candy, gummy vitamins, or fruit leather or “roll-ups”) can erode enamel and cause cavities. If your kids eat these foods, have them rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after eating to wash away the sugar. The same goes for taking sweetened liquid medicines: always have kids rinse or brush afterward.
-As your child’s permanent teeth grow in, the dentist can help prevent decay by applying a thin wash of resin (called a sealant) to the back teeth, where most chewing is done. This protective coating keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach crevices of the molars. But make sure that kids know that sealants aren’t a replacement for good brushing and regular flossing.
-As kids grow, plan on routine dental checkups anywhere from once every 3 months to once a year, depending on your dentist’s recommendations. Keeping sugary foods in check, encouraging regular brushing and flossing, and working with your dentist will also contribute to your child’s good dental health.