Tips To Keep Your Child's Teeth Healthy

Good oral care begins when children are babies. Here are some tips to keep your child's teeth and mouth healthy!
Carrie A. Morris, RDH

Whether you are breastfeeding or using formula, you should cleanse your infant's mouth after each feeding and "spit up," and for sure at least twice a day. This is to prevent a fungal infection called candidisis or Thrush.

Cleansing tips
To cleanse an infant's mouth, wrap a washcloth or gauze around your index finger, dampen with water, then wipe the gums, tongue and the inside of the cheeks.

As the infant develops, you will be able to swab more area in the mouth. The infant will become accustomed to having mouth cleaned and will establish a routine of oral hygiene.

At age four to six months, when many babies begin teething, you will continue to wipe the gums and inside the mouth. Now is a good time to introduce a finger brush with soft nylon bristles. Massage gums to stimulate and soothe tooth eruption.

Once the first few teeth have erupted, you may begin use of a toddler toothbrush in addition to swabbing. The more teeth that erupt the less swabbing will be need. However, you will need to brush the tongue, and don't forget to floss!

Flossing a toddler's teeth may be quite challenging, however if made a part of the oral hygiene routine, the more compliant he/she will be.

By age six, children can brush their own hair, dress themselves, tie their shoes, and seem somewhat responsible. Brushing and especially flossing is still difficult. Take turns with your child. Allow you child to brush in the morning and after school.

You maintain the crucial time, BEDTIME. Bedtime care is extremely important. Teeth do not need to bathe in plaque and sugars all night. Plaque and sugar form an acid that eats away the enamel causing cavities. You may need to assist flossing until age eight or nine.

Disclosing tablets
You can assess your child's brushing and flossing ability with the use of disclosing tablets. Disclosing tabs contain dye that stains all left over plaque and debris on the teeth. The tabs are available in the pharmacy section of most stores. After mouthcare, have the child chew the tablet, swish for 30 seconds, rinse gently with water, then spit.

Wherever you see the pink or red stain, brush and floss again. If you see a lot of staining, your child is not ready for the full responsibility. Reassess on a regular basis.

A dental hygienist can better assess your child's ability at regular dental appointments. The hygienist will examine for the presence of plaque. The absence of plaque is NOT an indicator of good oral hygiene. Healthy gum tissue is! Healthy gums are firm, pink, and do not bleed when probed. Unhealthy tissue is often red, swollen, and/or bleeds when probed.

The hygienist can demonstrate to you and your child proper brushing and flossing techniques to improve and maintain a healthy mouth.

Take care of your child's mouth from infancy to adolescence. Help them establish and maintain good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene is essential for a healthy smile!

Tags: hygiene

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