It’s important to invest in good oral health when your kids are young. As soon as your baby begins teething, it’s important to pay attention to their dental health and start establishing strong oral health habits. Babies don’t come with a roadmap for oral care — so we’ve created one for you!
These age suggestions include things to look out for and milestones to achieve as your child develops. Each step will help keep their smile shining bright and healthy throughout their childhood and the rest of their lives.
Infant Dental Care
Even before he or she starts to grow baby teeth, there are ways you can begin taking care of your baby’s oral health. Starting from a newborn age, keep your baby’s mouth clean by wiping their gums every morning and each evening before bed. To do this, use a soft, clean cloth on their gums to help remove any sugars or bacteria. This is particularly important when they begin teething, as residual sugars can result in cavities.
After your baby has begun teething, start using a small toothbrush with soft bristles to gently brush their teeth twice a day. Unless your child has problems with their teeth, such as baby bottle tooth decay, we recommend waiting until the child is a toddler to bring him or her to the dentist.
Early Childhood Dental Care
During their early childhood, kids will experience many changes taking place in their mouths. As they begin to lose their baby teeth and grow primary teeth in their place, it’s more important than ever to ensure they’re practicing good dental hygiene! Their permanent teeth will stay with them for the rest of their lives, so even as a toddler, they should begin recognizing the importance of brushing, flossing and regular dental visits.
Cavities are a very common problem among this age range in the U.S. Around 20% of children between 5 and 11 years old have at least one decayed tooth left untreated — a higher average than adolescents, among whom 13% have one untreated cavity at minimum. It’s extremely important to catch and treat cavities early, as when left untreated they can cause pain, infections and difficulty eating. Untreated cavities can also affect a child’s health and school performance, causing them to miss school and even receive lower grades.
As a parent, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers — but don’t worry. Early childhood tooth decay is largely preventable with good oral hygiene habits:
- Children should brush their teeth a minimum of twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste. Supervise their brushing to make sure they’re doing a thorough job, but encourage them to take responsibility for their own habits.
- Ensure they’re drinking tap water with fluoride to help their teeth grow healthy and strong. Fluoridated tap water can help children to prevent cavities.
- Schedule regular visits with your dentist to handle any issues and stay on top of your child’s oral health. When necessary, ask their dentist about applying dental sealants to give your child’s teeth an extra layer of defense against decay.
Adolescent Dental Care
It’s easy to assume that once your child has grown into an adolescent and has a full mouth of permanent teeth, there is less reason to worry about their dental health. This couldn’t be further from the truth! While it’s crucial to keep a close eye on your child’s teeth during early childhood, there are plenty of things to look out for as they grow into a teenager:
- Play it safe to avoid contact sports-related dental injuries. Have your teenager wear a custom-fitted mouthguard when wearing sports, and be sure they clean it regularly.
- Encourage a healthy, nutritious diet filled with vitamins, and avoid soda or sugary drinks.
- Your adolescent should keep visiting the dentist twice a year for checkups, and more frequently if they need any dental care. These will help your child maintain clean, healthy and bright teeth as well as helping to prevent or repair any problems quickly.
Infant and Children Dental Milestones
From a newborn baby to an adolescent, there are many milestones that take place with a child’s dental developments. Every child will develop at a slightly different pace, but you can expect the following big changes to take place during their childhood:
- Teething: Between 6 months and 1 year of age, your baby will begin teething. During this stage, keep cleaning their gums and soothe any teething discomfort with a cold washcloth or teething ring.
- First dentist visit: This should happen when your child is a toddler.
- Losing baby teeth: Around 6 years old, your child will start losing their baby teeth, a process that may take a few years. These will then begin to be replaced by permanent teeth, a process that only rarely causes discomfort.
- Braces: Once your child’s adult teeth have all finished growing, it may be time to consider braces to help align their teeth and fix any spacing issues. These are easier to re-align during childhood than it would be once they reach adulthood.
- Wisdom teeth: After adult teeth have finished growing, wisdom teeth will start to grow. These can cause discomfort, overcrowding or even infection if they start to become impacted and grow improperly. Often, some or all wisdom teeth need to be extracted, which can take place during late adolescence or adulthood.
Schedule a Pediatric Visit With Dental Choice Today
One of the best ways to care for your child’s oral health is to stay on top of regular children’s dentist visits. Dental Choice is dedicated to caring for patients of all ages, and we provide dental care for children from when they’re toddlers through adolescence. We know how important it is to develop healthy oral hygiene from an early age and establish good habits that will carry children through to adulthood.
Preventive care and routine checkups, as well as treatment for any tooth issues or decay, will help your child avoid more serious problems later in life. Learn more about our children’s dentistry services or schedule your free consultation today.
This post was reviewed by Dr. Abouhassan, of our Whyte Ave office.