By Advance Your Health Dental | Dr. Dirk Thompson, D.D.S. | Calgary Dentist
February is National Children’s Dental Health month and, as a parent, your child’s health is very important to you and their dental health is an integral aspect of their overall health. At our Calgary dentist office, we are often asked similar questions regarding baby’s and young children’s dental health so we’ve put together some of our most frequently asked questions regarding how you can help to ensure your child gets a healthy start with their oral health.
IF BABY TEETH FALL OUT EVENTUALLY, HOW IMPORTANT CAN THEY BE?
This is a question that we often hear. The fact is that the health of your child’s baby teeth is as important as the health of their adult teeth.
If you do not look after your child's baby’s teeth, just as in adult teeth, they can decay. Decayed teeth can lead to an infection, which can be very painful for your child. Once the tooth has decay in it, your dentist will have to place a filling in the tooth, which can also lead to anxiety for some children which can be difficult to overcome in future dentist visits. If the tooth decay is advanced, the tooth may have to be pulled which can lead to spacing and crowding issues once the adult teeth come in.
For all of these reasons, the health of your child’s baby teeth is extremely important and should be given the same attention as adult teeth.
WHEN SHOULD I FIRST TAKE MY BABT OR TODDLER FOR THEIR FIRST VISIT WITH OUR CALGARY DENTIST?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that your child should be taken for their dentist appointment within six months of their first tooth erupting or by the age of one year old, whichever is earlier. Early visits to the dentist can help to detect and address any potential issues including early caries and teeth crowding. Your dentist can also provide you with tips for caring for your child’s teeth at home and let you know whether there’s any room for improvement of your homecare routine. The ultimate goal of any early intervention is, if at possible, to avoid or at least mitigate any more serious issues that could develop as your child grows.
In addition to potentially detecting any possible issues early on, early visits to our Calgary dentist can help to get your child become accustomed and comfortable with visits to the dentist. It also helps your child to learn and understand about the importance of regular visits to the dentist and helps to give them a personal interest in looking after their own oral healthcare. An added bonus of your child regularly seeing our Calgary dentist? We have it on good authority (our little kiddo patients, of course!) that we do have the BEST toy box around. Who wouldn’t want to go home with a cool toy after their dental visit?
WHEN SHOULD I START BRUSHING MY BABY'S TEETH?
From the time your baby is born, you should start attending to their oral health. After each feeding, gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean towel. You should not use any toothpaste until your baby’s teeth start to come in.
When your baby’s first teeth start to erupt, you can start brushing their teeth for them. If you child has reached the toddler stage, it is generally recommended that parents brush their toddlers’ teeth for them until they are about 3 years of age, although this of course depends upon each child and, in particular, their willingness to allow a parent to brush their teeth for them and the development of their fine motor skills.
When brushing your toddler’s teeth, angle the toothbrush at a 45 degrees and position the toothbrush at the area where your child’s teeth meet the gums. Brush their teeth using very gentle circles, being very careful not to brush too hard as not only can this cause injury to their gums, but it can make the process very uncomfortable resulting in your toddler being less co-operative with future dental care.
WHAT TYPE OF TOOTHBRUSH SHOULD I USE FOR MY TODDLER?
After your toddler’s first tooth erupts, you should start brushing your toddler’s teeth with a toothbrush. As with adults, it’s important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush with rounded bristles, and because your toddler’s mouth is so small, using a toothbrush especially made and sized for toddlers is best. Because little ones can be hard on their toothbrushes, it is recommended that the toothbrush be replaced approximately every three to four months.
WHEN SHOULD I GIVE MY TODDLER TOOTHPASTE?
Generally, you should not begin using toothpaste for your toddler until you can be sure that the toddler will not swallow the toothpaste. Until such time, just use a toothbrush with water. Once you can be sure that your toddler will not swallow the toothpaste, it is recommended that a toothpaste with fluoride be used. If your toddler swallows fluoride, it can not only upset their little tummies, but excessive swallowing of a fluoridated toothpaste can cause dental fluorosis, which are white spots on the enamel. No matter what type of toothpaste you use, use it sparingly, approximately a pea-sized amount.
DO I NEED TO FLOSS MY TODDLER'S TEETH?
Yes! You should absolutely start to gently floss between all of your toddler’s teeth once all of their teeth come in. You should do this for your toddler as it is unlikely that your toddler will have the manual dexterity to accomplish this task on their own.
To floss your child’s teeth, start with an adequate amount of tooth floss so that you will have enough tooth floss to floss each tooth with a clean area of the tooth floss. Wrap the floss around your fingers and place the tooth floss into a “C” shape around your child’s teeth. Place the tooth floss at the point where the tooth meets the gums and gently swipe in an upward motion two to three times. Make sure that you clean both sides of each tooth and use a clean area of the tooth floss for each tooth area.
DID WE ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS?
There are so many other areas of dental concerns that this blog could have went on for pages! If you have any other questions or concerns regarding your child’s dental health, we welcome your calls to our Calgary dentist at 403.283.4252.
Our entire dental team loves working with children and it would be our pleasure to meet with you and your child and answer any other questions or concerns you may have.
Please be advised that this blog post is for informational purposes only. It is not to be taken or used as a substitute for dental, medical or other professional advice, treatment or diagnosis. Always ask your dentist, physician or other healthcare professional for advice before altering your diet or healthcare routine. Individual patient needs and oral healthcare concerns vary so please consult your dentist for more informtion about your specific dental health requirements.
Copyright: Dirk A. Thompson Professional Corporation operating as Advance Your Health Dental. Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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