Making the Most of Your Kids’ Dental Care Routine
A healthy smile for life begins with developing important dental care habits as a kid and achieving optimal general oral health in childhood. Parents play an important role in their kids’ present and future smiles.
Here are our most important kids’ dental care tips for parents.
1. Kids mimic the dental care habits of those around them.
Kids are masters of mimicry and they love to copy the actions or habits of parents, caregivers, and even older siblings. One of the best things you can do to convey the importance of dental care is to show them how you prioritize your oral health.
Include them in your brushing and flossing routine, and talk to them about cavities and why it’s important to take care of our smiles. You can even use snack time as an opportunity to explain why eating healthy foods is good for our bodies and our teeth.
2. Supervised brushing and flossing are okay at any age.
Most kids are ready for independent brushing somewhere between 6 and 9 years of age, but that doesn’t mean supervision should end at this time. Although your child may know proper brushing technique, how to floss, and to clean their teeth morning and night, they still benefit from mom or dad checking in to make sure they’re practicing good brushing and flossing habits.
Older kids and teens aren’t often so excited about parents supervising, so rather than standing and watching, try to make your interest a little more subtle. You might use this time to tidy up their bathroom or grab your own brush and clean your teeth together.
3. Toothaches aren’t the worst problems for kids.
Tooth pain might seem like the worst oral problem a child can face, but this isn’t quite true. We often equate pain to a new injury, but this idea doesn’t quite apply to oral health as it does to physical health. Simply put, just because your child doesn’t experience oral pain doesn’t mean there can’t be a problem. Even severe cavities may not cause pain. This is why routine checkups are so important.
Similarly, if your child does experience a temporary toothache but the pain vanishes, it’s still very important to get in touch with their pediatric dentist. Tooth pain means some sort of damage has occurred, even if the offending toothache goes away.
4. Checkups and cleanings are an oral health investment.
Investing in your child’s dental care means investing in their long-term oral health as well as how they prioritize their smile as adults. Kids should visit their pediatric dentist for a checkup and cleaning at least every six months, and sometimes more frequently if their dentist recommends it.
These routine visits help protect your child’s oral health by giving their dentist a chance to catch early signs of trouble before damage occurs. Cleanings will keep your child’s breath fresh and prevent trouble, like cavities and pediatric gum disease. Getting your child accustomed to regular dentist visits also helps dispel anxiety and encourages them to continue this habit as adults.
5. Providing the right tools makes dental care easier for kids.
Kids really benefit from access to dental care tools and products created with them in mind. Use ADA-approved products designed for kids, including soft-bristled toothbrushes, flossers, and children’s fluoride toothpaste.
Since kids don’t have quite the same dexterity as adults, providing your child with a powered toothbrush can help make their brushing more effective. Look for a brush with a small, round, oscillating head. We also recommend keeping two different flavors of toothpaste and mouth rinses on hand to encourage very young kids to get excited about dental care.
6. Fruit juice can be just as tough on teeth as candy.
Whole fruits have important vitamins and minerals, but drinking fruit juice doesn’t offer the same health benefits. A cup of 100% fruit juice has as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola. High sugar combined with natural acids present in many juices means sipping on fruit juice can be detrimental to your child’s oral health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum of 4 ounces for kids ages 1 to 3 and a maximum of 4 to 6 ounces for ages 4 to 6. Following these guidelines will protect your child’s oral and overall health.
7. A pediatric dentist can help build your child’s confidence.
Pediatric dentists specialize in caring for kids and teens. They not only have a deep passion for working with children, but they also have additional training and education in kids’ care, beyond what a family dentist may have.
The unique skills of a pediatric dentist help kids feel more comfortable and calm during dental visits, which in turn helps anxious or fearful kids build lifelong confidence in trips to the dentist.
8. Opting in for dental sealants will prevent most kids’ cavities.
Some preventive care treatments are optional, such as topical fluoride after a cleaning, but we want parents to know that we only recommend these options because they are effective. Dental sealants are a great example of an “optional” treatment that is an extremely effective investment for cavity prevention.
Properly applied dental sealants can prevent 80% of cavities for two years, and continue to provide protection until they physically wear off. Considering the results of dental sealants for kids, we think parents will agree that this treatment is much more of a necessity than a luxury.
Dr. Jeff and the team welcome kids and their parents to our Plano dental home.
Parents in Plano, Texas looking for a caring, gentle approach to kids’ dentistry won’t need to look further than Dr. Jeff and his team. Our practice is always accepting new patients.
You can book an appointment for your child by calling our office or filling out this online form.