Children’s Oral Health Tips

Flossing and brushing are the first two things most people think about when it comes to dental care, but there are a variety of other factors involved that make for a healthier mouth.

First off is diet. You should feed your child a diet that is rich in nutrients. Never give your child sugary drinks. Sugar affects the overall health of their bodies, and the bacteria feed on the sugar particles inside your child’s mouth. Your child should also avoid continuous snacking. Whenever bacteria is introduced to more food, it continues to multiply causing the acids that are produced to erode bone, gum tissue, and tooth enamel.

Next is oral habits. Did you know your child’s teeth alignment can be affected by using pacifiers and thumb sucking? It’s true. The good news is that there are orthodontically correct pacifiers children can use that will reduce deformities like crowded teeth or narrow roof arches. Our pediatric dentists can offer other strategies to keep your child from sucking their thumb.

General oral hygiene is another area of importance. Parents will sometimes clean the teething toy or pacifier their child uses by sucking on it themselves because it has been said that a child’s immune system can be improved. However, this is far from the truth. Harmful oral bacteria can be transmitted from your mouth that could negatively affect the overall oral health of your child and increase the risks of tooth decay and cavities. Instead, use warm water to clean teething toys and pacifiers. It is a much safer approach.

Sippy cups in general are used to help a child transition from baby bottles to drinking from adult glasses; however, their risk to a child’s oral health can prove to be consequential. If your child drinks lots of sugary drinks such as juice, the sugary liquid that continuously goes into your child’s mouth ramps up acid production which can invade your child’s tooth enamel. Once a child becomes a year old, the sippy cups should be replaced with adult drinking cups. This transition can coincide with your child’s first dental visit.

When it comes to brushing, you should help your child brush twice a day using a soft toothbrush and a tiny (pea-sized) amount of toothpaste. For babies, rub the gums with a clean cloth after each feeding. Once your child is around 6 or 7 years old and can reach all of the areas of their mouth with a toothbrush by themselves, they can begin brushing independently. Make sure that the toothpaste you purchase for your child is approved by the ADA, and that it’s non-fluoridated for children under aged 2 and fluoridated for children 3 and up.

Because the spaces between the teeth are more prone to tooth decay or cavities, it is important that you teach your child how to floss. Our pediatric dentists at Kids Dental Specialty can show you the correct position for your child’s head during flossing and offer fun ways to make flossing enjoyable for kids.

Finally, it’s important to have a healthy balance of fluoride. If your child’s mouth doesn’t have enough, their teeth can be at greater risk for tooth decay. But if your child has too much fluoride, fluorosis can occur. Tiny white specks will appear on their permanent teeth. Your child needs an appropriate amount of fluoride to promote tooth enamel remineralization while preventing mineral loss. Our pediatric dentists will determine your child’s current intake of fluoride and offer advice and include supplements if needed.