February is finally here. Yes, that means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but the real February holiday people are excited about is National Children’s Dental Health Month! Right? Children and baby’s dental health and oral care are very important, but they often can be overlooked.
Although baby teeth do eventually fall out, they still play an important role in your child’s biting, chewing, and speaking abilities. If baby teeth are not taken care of properly, they can start to decay as soon as they come in. Tooth decay causes pain, bleeding, and swollen gums. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is a great resource for learning about your child’s dental health and care.
There are some habits you can form to keep up with baby’s dental health day to day, in addition to going to the dentist about every six months.
- Check the tooth color: Baby teeth should all be one color. If you see spots or stains, make an appointment for your child with the dentist.
- Brushing baby teeth: You can start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they come in. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently clean teeth with water. Be sure to clean teeth before bedtime.
- Brushing toddler teeth: You can continue using a soft brush and begin using child-safe fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to use no more than a pea-sized drop.
- Inspecting brushing habits: You should inspect and help your kids brush their teeth until about age 7 or 8. One way you can help is to start brushing their teeth, getting to the hard to reach areas, and letting them finish up.
- Go to the dentist regularly: Make sure your baby has their first dental appointment by age one. Your dentist can review dental health tips with you and show you the best way to take care of your child’s teeth moving forward.
- Avoid the bottle before bed: This is especially true if you’re giving your baby juice, but milk and formula also have sugars in them that can stay on teeth and lead to decay.
- Start cups early: Teaching your child to drink from a regular cup as early as possible helps to prevent from liquid and sugars collecting around the teeth.
- Avoid sugary food and drink: Feeding your children foods with less added sugars will help their teeth stay healthy.
With these tips, you should be able to enjoy National Children’s Dental Health Month and Valentine’s Day with clean, healthy teeth.