5 Ways to Care for Your Child’s Dental Health

Take care of your child's dental health.

Best Dental Habits for Your Child

Are you doing everything you can to safeguard your child’s dental health? Parents play a vital role in guiding these early stages of development and building a solid foundation for the future. You can follow these tips below to provide the best habits and dental care for kids.

1. Starting Early: Baby’s First Dental Steps

It’s important to note that taking care of your child’s dental health is something that starts from birth, not just once their first tooth comes in. You’ll need to clean your baby’s gums to protect their oral health and know what to look for ahead of their first visit with a dentist in Edwardsville, IL.

Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water before cleaning your baby’s gums. You can take a washcloth and dampen it with warm water. Then, gently clean your baby’s gums. You can also find baby gum cleaners that fit over a finger and have soft silicone bristles, but make sure you only choose ADA-approved products.

Your baby’s first teeth will likely come in between four and seven months. Teething can be difficult, so consider options such as a dentist-approved teething ring. You should bring your child in for their first dentist visit within six months of the first tooth coming in or by 12 months of age, whichever comes first.

2. Teaching Proper Brushing Techniques

Brushing is a vital part of oral hygiene and essential for dental health. You can help your child develop good habits for life by starting them out from a young age and providing the appropriate guidance and oral health products.

Toothbrushes are available for various stages of development to encourage children to brush on their own. Young children will still need you to brush their teeth properly, but they can also start to participate. Don’t rush moving on to independent brushing. Make sure to at least supervise brushing until your child has developed a consistent and effective oral hygiene routine.

Brushing should be done at least twice a day, for about two minutes each time. Explain to your child the importance of covering all tooth surfaces, and ensure they aren’t brushing too hard in an attempt to speed through it. Flossing is also essential once per day, and it’s important to floss the gaps between every tooth.

3. Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits

Diet plays just as important a role in dental health as oral hygiene. You can instill healthy eating habits in your child to help guide their development and build a foundation for lifelong dental health.

Sugary, sticky, and crumbly snacks can increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay. They provide a rich food source for bacteria in your child’s mouth. Those bacteria secrete acid that weakens enamel, eventually wearing it away. Bits of food stuck on or between teeth give bacteria a long-term source of food.

Healthier alternatives include foods like fruits and vegetables. The fiber and water content can help wash away bits of food left behind, and the nutrients within them help support overall health. Avoiding soda and even juice, for the most part, is also advisable. The best drink for dental health is clean, pure water, especially to wash away any food left after meals or snacks.

4. Limiting Thumb-Sucking and Pacifier Use

Prolonged thumb-sucking and pacifier use can affect the development of your child’s teeth. The constant pressure from sucking and the physical presence of the thumb or pacifier can cause the upper front teeth to angle outward.

It’s important to deal with these habits before the adult teeth come in—typically around age six—as they can cause serious issues that may require orthodontic treatment. Try to stay positive and focus on explaining the potential impact of the habit instead of going with punishments. While there is a need to confront these habits, a little patience can go a long way.

5. Getting Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings

Regular dental visits are a fundamental part of proper dental health. Routine exams and teeth cleanings help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, along with identifying potential issues early enough for less-invasive intervention.

Routine visits typically entail an evaluation of your child’s teeth, including X-rays, and then teeth cleaning. The teeth cleaning removes plaque and tartar that brushing at home can’t deal with effectively. You can also choose options such as fluoride treatment and dental sealants to further protect your child from cavities and tooth decay.

The Right Dental Home for Your Child

You can provide the best for your child’s dental health and development by making Hite Family Dentistry your dentist in Edwardsville, IL. We offer a full range of preventive and restorative treatments to ensure happy and healthy smiles. Schedule your child’s next appointment today.