Oral Health Starts As a Baby With These Healthy Habits

Oral health starts with baby

Your child is never too young to start thinking about their oral health.

Good habits form early, so we encourage parents to get in the habit of instilling good dental habits in their children and start focusing on their child’s dental health earlier than they think. If you ever have any questions relating to your child’s dental health, reach out to the team at Pediatric Dental Specialists. We love children, and nothing makes us happier than to see your child smile!

Early checkups are OK—and encouraged!

Did you know regular dental checkups for children should start before the child’s first birthday? Children’s dentists encourage little ones to visit the dentist within six months of their first tooth breaking in and no later than their first birthday.

The first dental visit isn’t necessarily about checking on teeth, as some children might not have many teeth by their first birthday. Rather, it is more about getting a child used to the sights and sounds of the dental office. The dentist will simply spend some time checking to see how your child’s teeth and jaw are developing. Remember, these early appointments are about prevention!

At Pediatric Dental Specialists, we take a knee-to-knee approach when it comes to early childhood dental visits. This allows the parent to hold the child in their lap while we conduct our evaluation. We’ll explain everything that is happening and what we are checking for. We encourage parents to come armed with questions! We’re more than happy to answer them.

The first dental visit is also an opportunity for parents to learn the proper way to brush their child’s teeth. At Pediatric Dental Specialists, we’ll gladly share tips and tricks for brushing your child’s teeth as they grow from a baby to a toddler and beyond.

Start dental habits from babyhood.

Many new parents don’t realize that it’s best to begin your baby’s daily oral hygiene habits as soon as day one. After every feeding, parents can take a clean, soft, moist washcloth and gently massage their child’s gums.

Once your child has a tooth come in, it’s time to introduce brushing twice a day. For young children, they only need a small amount of toothpaste equivalent to a grain of rice. Using a soft or ultra-soft-bristled toothbrush, brush each tooth the same way you would brush your own teeth, using slow, circular motions on each and every tooth. Choose a toothbrush that is baby- or child-sized; an adult’s toothbrush will be too large for a child’s mouth, meaning you won’t be able to maneuver it around each tooth.

Once a child reaches toddler age, the proper amount of toothpaste to use increases, but only to the size of a pea. Remember to teach your child to spit out toothpaste after brushing and not swallow it. Why is this important? Because most toothpastes are fortified with fluoride. While fluoride is a natural occurring element and is good for your teeth because it helps build the enamel, or outside layer, of teeth, too much fluoride can cause cells in the bloodstream to block the formation of adult teeth.

When it comes to flossing, parents can begin flossing their children’s teeth as soon as they have teeth touching each other. While toddlers might have the fine motor skills to begin brushing their teeth on their own, parents might need to floss their child’s teeth for a few years. Many children are more than capable of flossing their own teeth by the time they reach grade school.

Healthy foods make a healthy mouth.

Instilling good healthy habits in every part of your child’s life will help them in so many ways. Encourage your child to drink water instead of sugary drinks, like sodas and juices. Too much sugar can eat away at your child’s teeth and cause cavities.

Eating healthy foods is also a smart choice, and not just because a healthy, balanced diet is good for your body. Crunchy vegetables and fruits, like celery, carrots, and apples, are smart choices as snacks and also can act as natural toothbrushes. The fibrous texture of these foods can stimulate the gums and increase saliva flow, helping reduce the amount of bacteria that can cause cavities. Sounds like a win-win!

Visit your dentist at Pediatric Dental Specialists twice a year.

Your child’s dental health is important to us! Your child should see a dentist twice a year, and Pediatric Dental Specialists has convenient locations all over Nebraska, including Omaha, North Platte, Hastings, and Grand Island. Make an appointment today to meet our team and make sure your child starts their good dental habits early!