Proper Dental Health for Children Begins with their Parents

by Amanda Merritt, Contributing Writer and Fantastic Friend

elmo brushesFor the past 8 years I have been working in the dental field and I have seen it all. I have worked on babies, adults and a lot of geriatric patients and what they all have in common is decay. I always wonder why patients don’t focus on preventing decay as much as they focus on fixing it. In my home we fix what we have to fix of course but prevention is the most important part of our oral care. My husband has great teeth and a killer smile. Me, not so much. I have fillings, crowns, root canals and even two rounds of braces. I don’t want any of that for my son, so we focus on prevention with him and I wanted to share what I know and practice in my own home. One thing I won’t go into is fluoride because it’s just too complicated. The link with brushing techniques does recommend it as well as the ADA but do your own research and find out what is best for you and your family.

  • Do you think your child’s baby teeth aren’t important?
  • Did you know parents should be brushing their children’s teeth for them until the child is 7 years old?
  • Does your child eat a well balanced diet with limited sugars?

Many parents don’t bother taking care of their children’s primary (baby) teeth because these teeth eventually fall out but there are many important reasons to care for these teeth. Unfortunately, a child’s primary teeth as just as important to take care of as their adult ones.

Healthy Primary Teeth:

  • Help with speech development.
  • Allow children to chew properly aiding them in good nutrition.
  • Save space in the jaw for their adult teeth to come in properly (straight.) Basic metal braces cost between $5000-$6000 dollars.
  • Builds a child’s self confidence and a lifetime of happy smiles.
  • Not all children develop all of their adult teeth. Some adults still have a baby tooth in their mouth and may be able to keep it past their 30’s and 40’s. I have worked for two dentist that actually have had baby teeth in their mouths and I can tell you, there is nothing cuter than a baby tooth in an adults mouth!

Brushing two times a day and flossing once a day is the current American Dental Association recommendation. Floss your child’s teeth before you brush and make sure you get down on the gum line.

Make brushing fun for them! Pull out your phone or Ipad and Youtube “Elmo toothbrush” and let them watch the video while you brush. Their are great books that explain brushing to children that you can check out at the library. Need more help? Visit a dentist! Did you know your child should have their first dental visit when they get their first tooth? There are so many great pediatric dentists that make the whole experience fun and enjoyable for everyone. I understand brushing can sometimes be a challenge but stick with it and your child will eventually comply.

Is your child consuming a lot of sugar? Cut it out!

tooth-decay-600x420Not only is it bad for their health is bad for their teeth. Candy, soda, juice, crackers and anything else that has sugars in it can cause decay. The idea that we should all be eating healthy is not news. Did you know your child’s adult teeth start developing at around 3-4 months of age? Poor nutrition can cause problems for the developing teeth as well. A few other poor habits for children that parents should be aware of are “baby bottle rot” and pacifiers/thumb-sucking. Does your baby take a bottle at night? Your child could be at risk for decay. Early Childhood Decay. If you child is using a pacifier and/or thumb sucking then check out the following article for more information. Thumb sucking and pacifier information.

I believe in teaching children good habits at an early age. This way we avoid teaching an “old dog new tricks.” My teeth were not taken care of as a child and getting in the habit as and adult was difficult, painful and very expensive. Check out the following links for more information and fun!

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