Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of early childhood affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Children with poor oral health may be in pain; pain that may interfere with speech development, sleeping, eating nutritious foods, and developing a good self-image. Those primary, or “baby” teeth not only play an important role in your child’s ability to chew and speak clearly, they also help shape the face as the child grows and maintain space for the permanent teeth. Proper dental care at a young age is an investment in your child's health that will pay lifelong dividends.
Dental Care for Your Child Even before the first little tooth appears, clean the gums and tongue daily (after feedings) with a soft moist cloth or gauze. As soon as the first tooth comes in, you can use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) to clean the child’s teeth twice a day. Use a small, gentle circular motion with the brush on the outside, inside and biting surfaces of each tooth. If you give your child a bottle or sippy cup during nap or bedtime, be sure to fill it with ONLY water. Juice, formula, milk, and breast milk can increase the risk for tooth decay.
First Dental Visit The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have their first dental visit by age one. The dental staff will look for any dental concerns, answer your questions about caring for your child’s teeth and possibly apply a topical fluoride. Your dentist will determine, based on each child’s individual needs, how often they should be seen for routine dental care.
Sealants- Sealants are protective coatings applied to the biting surfaces of permanent teeth to help reduce the risk for tooth decay. Dental sealants are easy to apply and provide years of protection.
Routine Dental Care at Home BRUSHING- Parents should assist with and supervise brushing until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own (usually around age 8). Continue to brush your child's teeth twice a day with a smear of fluoride toothpaste until age three, and after age 3, use a pea-sized amount. FLOSSING- Flossing once a day should begin when your child has two teeth that touch. Like brushing, parents should assist with flossing until the child has the dexterity to do it on their own (around age 8). Many adults find floss holders useful when reaching into little mouths. Be sure to ask the dental staff for pointers on flossing your child’s teeth. FLUORIDE- Fluoride goes into the enamel of teeth, making it harder and more resistant to decay. Although there is a small amount of fluoride in toothpaste and in the water supply in some areas, (there are no areas of Thurston County with fluoridated water) an additional fluoride supplement or application may be beneficial. Check with the doctors about the possible benefits for your child.
Sports & Your Child's Teeth If your child is active in sports, we recommend a custom-made mouthguard. According to the American Dental Association, an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer dental harm when not wearing one of these protective devices. We can have a mouthguard custom-made specifically for your child using a model of his or her teeth that will offer greater protection than an off-the-shelf model. It's an investment that pays off highly in the form of reduced pain, suffering — and dental expenses down the road! Please ask us about mouthguards at your child's next appointment.