Everything You Need to Know About Preventive Pediatric Dentistry

Oral Health And Preventive Pediatric Dentistry

You must take an active role in protecting your child’s oral health.

Preventive pediatric dentistry aims to help your child develop healthy teeth and keep their teeth and gums healthy, preventing cavities and gum disease. While dentists can do a lot to help protect your child’s oral health, they don’t have contact with your child every day. As a parent, you must play a major, active role in keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy. Preventive dentistry involves a wide range of treatments at our office and daily habits at home. Many of these change as your child ages, so it can be difficult to keep track of everything. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know about preventive pediatric dentistry.

Oral hygiene is important even before your baby has teeth.

Bacteria can build up and form plaque on your baby’s gums, whether or not they have teeth. While the plaque won’t hurt your baby’s gums, it can quickly do damage to newly erupting teeth. This is especially true when they’re just starting to erupt and are difficult to notice or clean. Gently wiping your baby’s gums with a wet washcloth helps their new teeth stay healthy. It also gets your baby used to the routine, making it easier to begin brushing their teeth once they erupt.

Regular dental visits are essential to your child’s oral health.

Visiting the dentist regularly is just as essential for your child’s oral health as it is for yours. Baby teeth, which have a thinner layer of protective enamel and are more vulnerable to decay, play a vital role in the development of healthy adult teeth. When your child’s first baby tooth erupts at around six months old, you should schedule their first pediatric dental appointment. Your child should visit the dentist every six months, just like adults. This helps your child’s dentist spot and treat issues early and keep an eye on the development of their teeth and jaws.

Fluoride helps prevent cavities and builds strong teeth.

Fluoride can greatly improve your child’s oral health by helping to build strong, healthy teeth and preventing cavities, so it’s important to ensure your little one is getting enough of it. Most Americans have access to fluoridated water. If you aren’t sure about your water, make sure to check with your child’s dentist. If your water isn’t fluoridated, they may prescribe a fluoride supplement. Additionally, fluoride treatments can be applied directly to your child’s teeth if they have an increased risk of getting cavities.

Recommendations for oral hygiene change as your child ages.

Oral hygiene is the best defense for your child’s oral health. Sticking to your child’s oral hygiene routine and updating it as they age is incredibly important. When your baby’s first teeth erupt, brush their teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled baby toothbrush and a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. You should also begin flossing their teeth daily as soon as their teeth are close enough together. Increase the amount of toothpaste you use to brush your child’s teeth to a pea-sized amount between the ages of three and six. When your child begins brushing their own teeth, make sure you supervise them to ensure they’re brushing thoroughly for two minutes and that they don’t swallow the toothpaste.

Good oral health is important for your entire family.

Cavity-causing bacteria can actually be spread from one person to another. This is why it’s important that you take care of your own oral health just as carefully as you take care of your child’s. Otherwise, simply sharing a spoon or drink with your little one can spread cavity-causing bacteria to their mouth. You should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, floss and use mouthwash at least once a day, and visit your dentist twice a year.

Diet genuinely impacts your oral health.

Feeding your child a balanced diet, including lean proteins, grains, dairy, and plenty of fruits and vegetables can have a huge impact on your child’s oral health by providing vitamins and minerals that are essential for growing strong, healthy teeth. Sweet or carbohydrate-rich snacks can stick to your child’s teeth for a long time, allowing bacteria to feed on them and produce enamel-eroding acids for longer periods. Give your child fruits and vegetables for snacks instead. For the same reason, you should give them water to drink between meals and keep water in their room at night instead of a bottle or juice.

Sealants are used to protect against cavities.

Although proper oral hygiene is the best way to prevent cavities, it’s not always easy to reach the farthest nooks and crannies of your child’s teeth, and children who are just starting to brush their own teeth aren’t always great at reaching these spots, either. Sealants are a protective coating that’s quickly and painlessly applied to your child’s teeth; they last several years and are proven to reduce the risk of decay in molars by almost 80%.

X-rays are an effective diagnostic tool.

Unless their dentist decides they need one earlier, your child will usually get their first X-ray when they’re around four years old. X-rays provide important information about the health and development of your child’s teeth and jaws, picking up small problem spots or cavities that are hard to spot with the naked eye and allowing dentists to ensure their jaw is developing normally.

Mouth guards protect teeth from injury.

As your child becomes more mobile and begins to play sports, encourage them to begin wearing a mouth guard during any sport where they may take an unexpected hit to the face. Mouth guards help protect teeth and the soft tissues of the mouth from injury; they can mean the difference between rushing your child to an emergency dentist and your child continuing the game.

Orthodontic consultations are important in preventive dentistry.

Your child should have their first orthodontic consultation at seven years old; this allows orthodontists to examine their bite and determine if they’ll need orthodontic treatment in the future. In rare cases, orthodontists may recommend early treatment to prevent dental issues from becoming severe, like using palatal expanders to prevent or lessen overcrowding. This can significantly shorten the amount of time your child will need braces in the future and may eliminate the need for treatments like tooth extractions.

In many ways, preventive dentistry revolves around forming good habits—sticking to a healthy diet, committing to good oral hygiene for your entire family, and taking your child to the dentist regularly. While it can be a lot of work, the results will benefit you and your family for years to come, reducing the money you spend on dental treatments and keeping your child healthy and pain-free.