Year 1 or the first baby tooth marks the time of the first visit to the dentist. Oral hygiene starts at birth, after every feeding mom cleans the gums of the baby with a wipe or a soft wet washcloth. Clean gums are followed by clean teeth and good oral health. Oral health is part of the general health and impacts on the growth and development of a child.
Primary or baby teeth eventually fall out but until then they help the child eat and speak clearly, and save space and guide permanent teeth into place. Research shows that children with caries (cavities) in their baby teeth are more likely to develop cavities as an adult, so get your child to a dentist for a checkup and grasp on good oral hygiene habits!
At the first dental visit the pediatric dentist will evaluate the teeth, remove plaque, discuss proper oral hygiene, diet, and any habits the child may have (e.g. use of pacifier, thumb sucking, nail biting, etc.) The pediatric dentist will advise on an age-appropriate toothbrush (e.g. small head toothbrush for a baby) and the proper technique to brush the teeth. She will also advice on the amount of toothpaste and flossing. Use a smear of toothpaste until age 2 and a ‘pea’ sized amount of toothpaste when the child is able to spit it out. Around 2 years old is the time to start flossing once a day using regular floss or special plastic floss holders.
Usually children want to brush their teeth, give him a turn but always brush your child's teeth a second time. Most children won't be able to do it well until they are 8 years old, usually when they can tie running shoes or write in cursive. Brush 2 minutes twice a day, sing a song or use a timer. Around age six, when your child has learned to spit in the sink and rinse his mouth properly you can introduce a mouthwash.
Visit your pediatric dentist every six month and help your child to have a healthy smile for a lifetime!
Flavia Lamberghini is a DDS, MS, MPH, Board Certified Pediatric Dentist. Her practice, Apple Dental Care, is located at 2062 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL 60647. Learn more at www.appledentalcare.org. You can also find Apple Dental Care on Facebook.