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Dental Care Tips

Back to School Smiles: 5 Dental Care Tips to Keep Kids’ Teeth in Tip-Top Shape

Let’s face it, we all worry pretty consistently about the state of our dental health. Our teeth not only help us function on a very a basic level, but become a huge part of the way we present ourselves. With all this on the line, it goes without saying that you’d be even more concerned with dental care as it pertains to your child. After all, it’s on you to make sure that they get the best care possible not just from professionals, but in the home as well.

With the school year just around the corner, you may want to consider squeezing in a last minute trip to the pediatric dentist while you still have a little space on the calendar. Your dentist will be able to provide thorough cleaning services and a few tips for maintaining a good oral hygiene regimen as you get back into the swing of your school year schedule. With that in mind, here are a few great tips to help you ensure that your child is getting the best dental care possible when he or she heads off to school!

1. Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that makes tooth enamel more resistant to tooth decay as well as repairs enamel that has been damaged by decay. You’ll find it in mouthwash and toothpaste as well as community tap water. You can contact your local or state department with any inquiries about fluoride in your water. If your water does not contain fluoride, your doctor or pediatrician may suggest a supplement.

2. Cleaning

It goes without saying that kids of a certain age just can’t do it on their own, and until you’re absolutely certain that your young one can responsibly and effectively handle dental maintenance, it’ll be up to you to see to it that everything stays clean and healthy.

Let’s go from the beginning. Even from birth, it’s imperative to make sure that a child’s mouth stays clean. You should start by cleaning with a warm gauze even days after birth. As soon as the baby teeth come in, they are immediately at risk for complications including tooth decay. Once this happens, you should begin brushing your child’s teeth twice daily. As soon as two of the baby teeth touch, you should begin giving particular attention to cleaning between teeth.

If a child is younger than three years of age, you should use an amount of toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice. This amount can slightly increase from age three to six. Always be sure to supervise your children to ensure that they are using the correct amount of toothpaste and that they aren’t swallowing any.

3. Teething & Pacifiers

Teething is simply one of those first, inevitable, and infuriating trials of life for both the young victim and the caretaker of such. Over the first few years of your child’s life, an entire set of temporary teeth will push through your child’s gums. This can lead to many uncomfortable situations.

After their teeth erupt from their gums, many children can become irritable to say the least. Fussiness might be the least of your worries as children can experience sleeplessness and loss of appetite. Although these symptoms can become difficult to deal with, it will be about the extent of it. Though some might tell you otherwise, things like fever and diarrhea are not normal symptoms for teething. If these become present, it’s important to contact a physician immediately.

With all this irritation, it will be perfectly normal for your child to become irritated to the point of wanting to exercise and stimulate the teeth by chewing and gnawing on things. They may suck on their thumbs. At this point, it would be prudent to purchase a pacifier for your young one. It may seem tempting to put sugar, syrup or some other sweet food on your child’s pacifier, as many have found that it helps to satisfy the child’s irritability. This is a bad idea, as sugars at such an early age can lead to immediate and devastating decay in the child’s teeth.

Another often overlooked problem that can occur in children’s dental health is the potential passing on of bacteria from a parent or caretaker. When feeding a child, it can be just a simple impulse to put a feeding spoon in your mouth while trying to clean it, but bear in mind that it’s easy to pass on bacteria from saliva.

4. Dental Visits

Just as soon, or perhaps even the very day, that a child’s teeth begin to show themselves, it’s important to begin contemplating your child’s dental care. It is recommended strongly that your first dental visit for your child occur within six months of the first tooth appearing, but no later than a child’s first birthday. Far too many caretakers wait until there’s an emergency to act, but beginning at an early age can greatly enforce healthy dental habits for life.

Although the first visit with your dentist will be primarily to simply inspect for development. It can’t hurt to make sure that your child is comfortable in this stage. Schedule your appointment around a time that they will be refreshed and cooperative. A calm attitude can go miles in nurturing a positive attitude about dental health.

5. Healthy Eating Habits

Once your children head off to school, it’s important to make sure that you’re equipping them with healthy, nutritious breakfast and lunch foods that are also good for their teeth. Proteins, fruits, and veggies are all important items to include in the lunch box –– think almond butter, grapes, carrots, and celery. But what you don’t put in the lunch box can be just as important –– especially when it comes to your child’s teeth. Avoid sugary sodas, fruit juice drinks, and sweet fruit snacks or cookies that can leave a sugary residue on your child’s teeth for the rest of the day. If you want to let your kids have a snack after school, that’s fine! Just make sure that it’s a reasonable serving and that you can brush his or her teeth quickly after to avoid the likelihood of cavities.

Last but not least, try to remember your own experience learning about dental health and how frustrating it can be for children to approach this. There’s no excitement or immediate reward in dental hygiene, it’s simply necessary work. Remember this as you approach the obvious frustrations involved with teaching back-to-school dental tips to your child. Children aren’t always sure what’s best for them, but tooth care is an obvious virtue that needs to be instilled from an early age.

David Olson

David Olson is a writer and content strategist. Aside from his content creation for B2B companies, he writes about developments in science and technology, as well as health and dentistry.