How Do I Care for My Toddler’s Teeth?

Caring for toddler’s teeth can be a challenge. Although a toddler’s teeth are small, they are like the teeth of an adult and must be properly cared for in order to maintain good oral health and hygiene. These tips and guidelines will help you keep your toddler’s teeth and overall oral health in the best condition possible.

Create a Routine

Your child’s oral health starts with you. As a parent, you need to make sure you are doing your part in your child’s brushing and flossing routine because children do not develop adequate hand-eye coordination to do a good job brushing and flossing until about the ages of 8 to 10 years. The most important times a child should brush and floss his or her teeth are in the morning and before they go to bed. Creating a routine can be difficult but it’s not impossible. You will have to help your toddler each time.  It is best to let the child brush and floss first, so that way he or she gets to practice and can develop the needed hand-eye coordination to do a good job. The best way to teach your toddler how to brush his or her teeth is to lead by example. Brush your teeth the same time your toddler is brushing his or her teeth. 

Locate a Dental Office

Finding a dental office you are comfortable with is in the best interest of you and your child. A children’s dentist is the ideal dentist for your child. A general dentist can be used, but a kids’ dentist specializes in the comfort, care and health of children. When you are trying to find a dental office for your toddler, consider its location, how far it is from your home and the type of insurance that is accepted.

Schedule Regular Check-Ups

Scheduling regular check-ups is perfect preventative care for cavities, gum disease and other issues that can occur due to poor oral hygiene. By your toddler’s first birthday, your child should be seen by a kid-friendly dentist.

Ration the Juice

While it is okay to give your toddler juice, do not let them sip it for an extended period of time.  The time it takes them to drink the juice is more critical than the amount of juice they drink.  Juice can be given to your toddler each day but it is only recommended with meals.   Water or a sugar free beverage should be used for between meals or for sipping.

Teach Good Habits

Teaching your toddler good habits is the best way to prepare for the future. Teach them how to properly use a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, and tell them why it’s important to brush and floss their teeth at least twice each day.

5 Ways to Make Brushing Teeth More Fun

Establishing good brushing habits and scheduling regular visits with a dentist are two important ways to help your kids achieve a lifetime of good dental health. Getting them excited for daily routines, however, can be a bit tricky. If you are having trouble convincing your kids that dentist visits and dental health are important, here are five ways to make brushing teeth more fun.

1. Get the Gear

The selection of electric toothbrushes for children is wide and it’s easy to find just the right brush for every child. Some have flashing lights while others play songs from pop artists. No matter which you choose, having the right equipment will always make the job more entertaining.

2. Sing a Song

Many children sing their ABCs while washing their hands to make sure they are scrubbing long enough and the same idea can be applied to brushing. Finding a song that is two minutes long, playing a two-minute portion of a favorite song, or choosing a four-minute song that can be started in the morning and completed in the evening are all fun ways to make sure your kids are brushing long enough.

3. Cavity Crusaders

Help younger kids get in the right mood for cavity fighting by turning them into superheroes. Even something as simple as a small towel that becomes a “cape” during brushing can help transform your toddler into a Cavity Crusader who must not stop until all the cavity bugs are defeated.

4. Rewards

One way to encourage daily brushing is to give rewards after brushing. Every child is different so pick a reward system and the frequency of rewards that suits your child best. Create a chart and let your kids place a sticker on each day that they’ve brushed. When they reach their goals, they get a special prize.

5. Play Copycat

Keep older kids engaged in dental health by having them demonstrate the proper way to brush, floss, and rinse so the little ones can copy what they are doing. As a bonus, big kids are usually extra careful with their techniques to make sure they are teaching the little ones correctly.

A Lifetime of Rewards

By making dental heath fun, kids will not try to avoid brushing and flossing like other chores they have to complete. Instead, they will begin to establish great habits that will last a lifetime.

Why Fill Baby Teeth

It would be safe to say that the fear of cavities is a main reason why most parents encourage their children to brush their teeth. No one likes the idea have having tooth pain or experiencing that first drilling, but what happens if you or your child’s dentist finds a cavity?

When a cavity is found in a baby tooth, there are options on how to treat them, such as a preventive resin or a traditional filling. Your dentist will review the options with you so you can choose together your best course of action for your child’s oral health. If you are be reading this and wondering why we would fill a tooth that is only going to fall out in a few years anyway, rest assured, there is a reason!

It is estimated that 51 million school hours are lost due to dental disease each year. Imagine trying to concentrate on multiplication when your tooth hurts! Additionally, a decaying tooth can abscess causing severe pain. Cavities that are left untreated can bring a host of complications that go as far as school performance and peer relationships. Yes, those teeth are going to fall out eventually, but right now they are very important to your child.

Baby (or primary) teeth hold space in your child’s mouth for the permanent teeth to grow in. Therefore, if a tooth is lost to untreated decay, the nearby teeth may shift into the empty space and actually prevent the permanent tooth from erupting properly. When this happens, a crooked smile is often a sad result.

If you find or suspect a cavity in your child’s teeth, don’t hesitate to have it checked out. Of course, we all desire to prevent cavities from forming, but if one sneaks in, early detection and treatment is important!

Children at Risk

Overall, children in America have the benefit of the best oral care in the world.  The care they receive is so good that only half of the children who are enrolled in our schools have ever had a cavity! We have the advantage of fluoridated water in many public supplies and dental care that is easily accessible. This is wonderful news for our children and their smiles!

Sadly though, 25% of the children we speak of are the ones who have 80% of the cavities in this demographic. Children who have special health care requirements have just that: special needs. Those children, who are chronically ill, physically impaired or developmentally disabled, are some of the children who find themselves in the 25%. Some of these children are in families that rely on Medicaid, as those with medical problems often find themselves in a position where they qualify for this benefit. But even with this benefit, only 7.8% of Medicaid dollars are spent on dental care. Almost all children who are developmentally disabled are likely to have moderate to severe gum disease, which alone can be responsible for many, many trips to the dentist. A child with Down’s syndrome must have an x-ray of the neck before any dental treatment, to determine the position of their spine.  If anything is awry, it may be safest to have their dental work done while they are under anesthesia.

Children fall into the at-risk category when they are from lower income families who have not placed, or have not been able to place, an emphasis on dental care. Not all community water is fluoridated, such as Mansfield, which also places these children at risk for dental disease.

Research has shown that dental disease may negatively impact a child’s performance in school as the pain and discomfort from any tooth decay is distracting and impedes the ability to focus on studies and eat a healthy lunch, which fuels him or her through the day.  Every child deserves to have a healthy and attractive smile. Children with healthy mouths have a better chance of a good general health. With a healthy smile, children are more likely to have confidence in their appearance.

How to Select a Dentist for Your Child

For many children, the idea of going to the dentist instills fear. Choosing the right office for your child can help alleviate dental anxiety and shape a positive self-image.  Successful oral health can be achieved by educating parents and patients about daily dental care and diet combined with periodic office visits.
The office you select to care for your children must understand the
needs of our young and growing population.  Does your dentist have the necessary tools and amenities that fit your child?  Do the staff and dentist speak in a manner that a child will understand?  Children need to be handled and spoken to in ways they can relate to. A good dentist for children recognizes these differences.

Every child is unique.  Depending on the child’s age, different approaches may be used to manage behaviors that guide dental development.  The dentist and staff will help your children avoid future
dental issues by understanding his or her individual needs. 

The office you choose should have a team that caters to children. This will help provide a smooth dental visit and aid in the overall health of your child.  A kind, caring dental team will leave a lasting impression on a child and the oral health education is more likely to be utilized to promote good oral health.  Positive reinforcement with children is the best motivator.

Selecting the right dentist for your family will establish good oral hygiene practices that are directed by a group of caring professionals. When good habits are followed and maintained at home, it reduces the incidence of dental disease and makes for a more pleasant dental experience. By picking a dentist that best suits your child’s needs, you are being proactive in the dental health of your children.

A good dental team is continually advancing its knowledge of the best dental practices and techniques through continuing education.  As professionals they understand dentistry and how it is evolving, so rest assure, the oral health of your child is in good hands.

Research the office where you would like to take your children to see if they have a special way of relating to the patients. Call and talk with the staff about how the team helps calm the fears of the children. Knowing how the office operates will provide insight in to their ability to handle children.

A reputable dental practice will be glad to discuss any concerns you may have before your child’s first visit. The dentist office should not be a scary place but one that helps build self-confidence and productive dental habits that will last a lifetime.

To set up an appointment for your child, call Playtime Dental today, (419) 774-7529.