Useful knowledge to help you protect your child’s oral health.
If you’re a parent, your life might feel like a never-ending series of questions. As you travel along this beautiful but challenging journey, there are many uncertainties to navigate. Whether your babies are in diapers or driving, you’ll never stop trying to make the best decisions for their future. This especially applies to their dental care.
You know that it’s important to take great care of your child’s teeth, but you also know that means more than simply reminding them to brush twice a day. What are the steps you should take to help them form healthy habits, and what do you do when the unexpected happens?
Take a deep breath… We’re here to put your mind at ease. Today, we’re sharing 12 common questions that parents have about their child’s teeth, along with the straightforward answers you need.
1. When do baby teeth come in?
Every child is different, but you can expect your baby’s first teeth to come in between six months and one year. Even before those precious pearly whites pop up, remember to take good care of your baby’s mouth and gums. Wipe them gently twice a day with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove any food or liquids and keep bacteria at bay.
2. How do you brush baby teeth?
Brushing your baby’s teeth doesn’t have to be complicated. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, start at their gum line and brush in a gentle, circular motion. Use a light back-and-forth motion to clean all chewing surfaces. Keep the toothpaste size to no larger than a grain of rice, and remember to brush both the front and back of each tooth.
3. How do you brush your child’s teeth properly?
When children lose their baby teeth and adult teeth come in, you’ll follow the same method described above. The only difference is you can now increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste to a dime-sized amount.
4. How long are you supposed to brush their teeth?
You should brush your child’s teeth as long as you brush your own: for two minutes.
To make it fun, you can find many dental-themed timers and even special toothbrushes that count down the minutes. Some have fun music and others have bright lights to mark the passing of time. This is an easy way to help them look forward to their brushing routine!
5. How often should you brush your child’s teeth?
If you’re ever unsure about the frequency with which you should brush your child’s teeth, remember the 2-2-2 rule. Children should visit the dentist twice a year. In addition, they need two minutes of brushing, two times a day!
6. Should you brush your child’s teeth before or after breakfast?
This is one question that confuses most people. It’s best to brush before breakfast, and here’s why. When you sleep, your saliva production slows down drastically. This allows bacteria to build up on your teeth and gums. If you’ve ever been woken up by a child with definite “morning breath,” you know that this phenomenon occurs across all ages!
By brushing in the morning, you can remove this overnight buildup, along with any lingering bacteria. If they skip this step and head to the kitchen anyway, rinse their mouth with water and try to wait at least 20 to 30 minutes after eating to brush their teeth.
Why wait? Many breakfast foods and drinks (like orange juice) are pretty acidic and can weaken the enamel of your child’s teeth. Postponing their cleaning a little allows their saliva to remineralize their enamel before you brush.
7. How do I get my toddler to brush?
Facing an unruly toddler who would rather play all day than spend a second in front of the bathroom sink? It helps to give them a sense of autonomy. First, let your child choose their own age-appropriate toothbrush. Then, take turns brushing for them and allowing them to show you their awesome skills. You can also lead by example, brushing alongside them to help them mirror the correct technique.
Another way to make this step more appealing? Make it as fun as possible! Sing silly songs while you brush, make up rhymes, and play funky music. If they still refuse, this Elmo video about brushing is pretty irresistible!
8. What is baby bottle tooth decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay can occur in infants and young children who are exposed to liquids containing high amounts of sugar for prolonged periods of time. These liquids can include milk, formula, fruit juices, or even sodas.
If you engage in frequent and long-lasting feedings without cleaning your baby’s teeth afterward, the risk for this form of decay can be high. To avoid it, don’t let your child fall asleep with a bottle and be sure to clean their teeth and gums after every feeding.
9. Why do my baby’s teeth look stained?
Are your baby’s teeth looking a little discolored lately? If so, there are a few reasons why this might be the case. These might include:
- Inadequate brushing.
- Excessive fluoride use.
- Tooth injury.
- Weakened enamel.
- Medication use (e.g. supplemental vitamins).
Talk to your pediatric dentist about any concerns and remember to practice great dental hygiene to keep their teeth sparkling!
10. What do I do if my child loses a permanent tooth?
From sports injuries to accidental falls, there are many reasons why your child might lose a permanent tooth. If this happens, it’s best to act quickly. Clean the tooth and put it back into the socket as you travel to your emergency dental appointment. To control any bleeding, place a piece of sterile gauze on the socket and tell your child to bite down gently.
If you can’t re-implant the tooth immediately, store it in cold milk, saliva, or a special tooth preservation solution, and visit your dentist as soon as possible, preferably within the hour.
11. How safe are dental x-rays?
There is very little risk in allowing your dentist to take dental x-rays of your child’s teeth. X-rays enable dentists to see exactly what’s going on in your child’s mouth, so they can help identify early problems and prevent new ones from forming.
A pediatric dentist will use the lowest effective dose of radiation when performing x-rays on your child. In addition, they will also take other measures to protect them. These steps can include:
- Lead shielding.
- Strategically spacing the interval of x-ray evaluations.
- Employing the latest digital technology.
12. When should I schedule my child’s first dental checkup?
You can protect your child’s teeth by scheduling their dental checkups early. The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend scheduling their first dental visit within six months after their first tooth appears.
Even if your baby is still all gums by their first birthday, it’s important to schedule a checkup by the time they turn one year old.
Trust us with your child’s teeth.
Our pediatric dental team is dedicated to providing your children with the top-notch care they need, starting at infanthood. As you learn the ins and outs of caring for your child’s teeth, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about our Plano office!