This month, February 2019, is National Children’s Dental Health Month. It’s important to get dental care right, right off the bat. If you aren’t sure when to start visiting the dentist and brushing or whether to avoid pacifiers and thumbsucking, check out the list below compiled from tips from Mouth Healthy brought to you by the American Dental Association and the American Pediatric Society.
- Start brushing before teeth even come in by brushing gums with an infant brush. This is good for gum health and will make starting to brush less of a shock.
- Use fluoride to reduce risk of cavities. In areas where it is not in the water, teeth rot is much more common, causing pain and other difficulties. Many toothpastes also contain fluoride.
- Take your child to the dentist starting at their 1st birthday. After that, an appointment every six months is recommended.
- Avoid sugary snacks, gum, sodas and even too much juice. Sugar is bad for teeth and increases the risk of cavities. Chimping ice can erode the enamel – the strong outter shell that protects teeth and gives them their sparkling whiteness.
- Try to ween from the bottle around one and begin encouraging use of regular adult cups (rather than sippy). It’s not too early and good for mouth health!
- Let a child use a pacifier to soothe if you like, but try to break the habit before by 2-4 or when permanent teeth arrive. Sucking is a natural instinct and should not damage teeth.
- Breastfeed even after teeth begin to come in IF you want to. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding the first year of life.
- Make brushing fun! Use flavored toothpaste, cool brushes, watch videos, sing songs, even stickers and prizes to make it a habit that is happy and sticks.
- Use teethers and orajel for teething babies.
- When you do run into trouble, use sealants when recommended. These are highly effective and can prevent more painful procedures.
- Don’t leave a bottle in baby’s mouth to sleep.
- Don’t put anything but milk/formula in a bottle.
- Don’t encourage thumb sucking. It can misform teeth, causing problems eating and speaking. Pacifiers are an easier habit to break because you can take them away – thumbs less so!
- Don’t dip a pacifier in something sweet to get a child to suck on it.
- Don’t use teething tablets as they have unregulated amounts of belladonna, which can be poisonous.
Keep teeth clean and kids happy 🙂