Most of us know that adults should go to the dentist at least twice a year and that we are supposed to brush twice a day and floss once a day. But there seems to be some concerning opinions on when to implement oral care for kids. Let’s review best practices for the little humans of the world.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be seen for their first dental visits around age 1, followed by the traditional “every 6 months.” At this first appointment it will be a quick visual screening and lots of education for parents. This is very important for the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease because some adults just need guidance. Although a pediatrician should already be screening for obvious developmental issues like tongue ties and lip/mouth malformations, it’s the dental team that will best asses your little one’s teeth and gums and can give you personalized recommendations.
When it comes to caring for your child’s teeth, the general rule is to keep the mouth clean and brush any tooth you see as soon as it makes an appearance. Some babies have teeth erupting as early as the first 4 months. Other babies don’t get any teeth until they are well over a year old. With such a wide range of schedules, it is important to immediately start brushing and cleaning those baby teeth when they are visible. That means you’ll need to look on a regular basis because out of sight is out of mind. No need for toothpaste at such a young age, just use a toothbrush or washcloth and clean their gums and teeth every morning and night, night time being the most important!
Flossing doesn’t really need to take place for most kids until the second year molars are fully erupted, but the best suggestion with flossing is: “If the teeth touch, they need to be flossed.” The more these habits become your household routine, the more the child will become desensitized and view it as “No Big Deal.” Expect your child to go through phases too. I can remember many nights, when we were both tired; brushing for about 10 secs was all we accomplished! But take heart, the more you keep oral care as a priority, the more normal and routine it will become to them.
Contributed by Jessica Morgan, RDH and Senior BURST Ambassador