Dental Basics for Toddlers
It can be difficult to know exactly when and how to begin training your children when it comes to dental hygiene. Do you even need to worry about it before your child begins cutting their teeth? Well yes. Young children should have their mouth and gums gently cleaned regularly—even before the teeth come in. It helps to protect them from bacteria and it familiarizes them with the experience of having their parents care for their oral health. This will make it easier to do later, when their teeth come in and they really need it.
But why bother fussing over baby teeth when they’ll be replaced by permanent ones eventually anyway? Again, good oral hygiene is never wasted. You can prevent many problems with a little early care. In addition, you can take this time to lay the groundwork that will help your child establish healthy dental habits for the future.
The First Steps
Before your child even has teeth, you should be cleaning their gums on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter what they are eating, their mouth needs to be clean to be healthy. You can do this by running a soft cloth gently around the gums. Once the child’s first tooth comes in, you will need to switch to regular brushing.
Young toddlers teeth can be kept clean with a gentle rub down, but once the child gets older, a soft brush will be needed. This will help you to keep the teeth free of stuck food. Your child should also begin visiting the dentist within the six months after they get their first tooth. This will ensure that there are no developing problems to deal with. In addition, your child will begin to familiarize themselves with the process of going to the dentist’s office before they have a chance to learn to fear or dislike the experience.
Protecting Your Toddler’s Teeth
In addition to brushing, there are some easy things that you can do to protect your child’s teeth. The number one thing that you can do is to limit their contact with sweet drinks like juice and soda—especially just before they go to sleep. When your child is sleeping, their saliva production is reduced and bacteria can build up. Sweet drinks before bedtime leave sugar in your child’s mouth to feed the bacteria and lead to serious cavities. Limit juice to mealtimes if you can.
In addition, make sure your child has access to fluoride in their water. Most tap water is fortified with fluoride, but you will need to look for a brand of bottled water that carries it if your family does not use tap water for drinking. Do not give your toddler access to fluoride toothpaste though, young children swallow their toothpaste and too much fluoride is not good for them. These tips can help you to give your child a head start on healthy teeth and that will give you time to teach them what they need to know about being responsible for their own oral hygiene.