Being a parent means taking on the responsibility of your child’s welfare. One of the top concerns is children’s oral health. Parents spend a great deal of time investigating guidelines, suggestions, and the best kids dentist available in their area. Following a simple dental health timeline gives parents welcome help when dealing with oral hygiene.
Children’s Oral Health Timeline
Healthy oral hygiene begins before the birth of a baby. Mothers are advised to seek out dental examinations during their pregnancy. Women who are not pregnant, but planning to conceive, should also seek out dental examinations. Visiting the dentist is easily overlooked. However, some dental problems can be dangerous to mother and baby.
0-4 Months Old
Good oral hygiene should begin as the baby’s gums are preparing to erupt teeth. After each feeding, gently wipe the baby’s gums down with a damp cloth. Begin by wiping the gums twice a day with a two or three-second interval between strokes. Soft rubber finger brushes are also available. It is never too early to establish a healthy oral hygiene routine. It will also ensure the gums are free from bacteria for the incoming teeth.
4 to 6 Month Old
These are the months when teething begins. Continue wiping down the gums and new teeth. They may be a little sensitive at this point, but continuing with the oral hygiene routine will still be important. Plaque forms on teeth, even newly emerged ones.
This is the time to schedule the baby’s first dental appointment. If you don’t already have a dentist, then find one that specializes in treating children. Depending on your insurance, check-ups may be scheduled every 6 to twelve months. Avoiding foods with high amounts of citric acid and unnecessary sugar will help prevent plaque development and early enamel loss.
One Year Old
This is a milestone age for many reasons. By now, the child should have had his first dentist appointment. Biannual checkups are a normal part of a child’s oral hygiene. Regular check-ups not only help with plaque build-up, but they ensure the child’s growth and development are on track.
Introduce your child to a soft bristle brush. It is recommended to use fluoride-free toothpaste until the child can spit out the toothpaste from his mouth. It is also acceptable to skip the toothpaste and use plain water for brushing.
As the teeth come in, watch for proximity. Once teeth begin touching sides, introduce your child to flossing. Establish a routine for flossing after every meal. Forming healthy oral habits early can prevent future problems.
2 to 3 Years Old
Many parents at this stage break their child’s pacifier habit. Dentists recommend that using a pacifier and thumb-sucking could misshape the child’s mouth. It could also affect how teeth come in.
By now, parents should have an established routine of helping their child brush and floss their teeth. By age three, most baby teeth will be in. Two times per day is acceptable. However, dentists recommend brushing and flossing after each meal.
3 to 6 Years Old
As children grow they gain more independence in self-care. It is up to the parent to discern when their child will be able to brush and floss correctly and independently. Parents should supervise and assist as needed. Many children have trouble reaching the back of their mouth.
Assistance with flossing may still be necessary at this stage of a child’s growth. Also, your child should be continuing their bi-annual check-ups. By now, the dentist should have performed the child’s first x-ray. The x-ray will help the dentist to determine the child’s overall oral health. At this time parents begin to discuss sealers with their hygienists.
6 to 10 Years Old
At this age, your child should be independently brushing and flossing on a regular basis. Their routine should be firmly established. If a parent’s supervision is still needed, then brush your teeth with your child. This shows your child the correct method and thoroughness. Not only does this encourage your child, but gives them any needed guidance.
Around the age of 7, your dentist may recommend a visit to a children’s orthodontist. This will be suggested if there are concerns with oral development. Bi-annual check-ups should continue to monitor the changes as baby teeth transition into adult, permanent teeth.
10 Plus Years
By now the child should be completely able to independently attend to their oral hygiene. Healthy routines and habits are embedded in their daily lives. As your child receives praise, they will take pride in their smile and continue to brush and floss regularly.
Somewhere close to age 13, your child’s adult teeth should all be in place. Bi-annual check-ups should be continued for monitoring their development and growth. If applicable, major dental problems will be discussed. Your dentist will make recommendations for any corrective procedures needed. If your child hasn’t had any previous orthodontic screening, they will now.
Keeping your child in consistent dental care is important for their oral health. Offices such as Kids Dental Specialty, an Ontario children’s dentist facility, offers specialized training. Healthy habits for proper oral hygiene, starting in the early years, are important for a lifelong healthy body.