As a parent, there are so many worries when it comes to your child’s health. Keeping them safe, happy, and well is more than a full-time job.
When it comes to caring for your child’s smile, though, many parents might not consider how valuable it is to focus on oral health, as part of raising a healthy child. Often, we find that the more patients are exposed to caring for their teeth when they are young, the more likely they will continue successful oral health into adulthood.
There are several little steps you can take while your child is young to set them on a path towards a healthy smile. Not only will these steps improve their overall health, but it will also put them on a path to higher self-esteem, self-care, and pride in their smile. Start their oral healthcare early, and your children will enjoy a lifetime of happy smiles!
5 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Smile
In celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month, we wanted to take the opportunity to list some of the best ways you can care for your child’s smile. Through preventative care, health eating, and making a connection with your dentist early, you can help your children feel confident in caring for their teeth.
Here are the 5 easiest ways to protect and improve your child’s oral health:
1. Start Hygiene Habits Early
Setting routines and rules is something parents do each day for their kids. Creating a sense of stability and security is important for a child’s safety, health, and happiness.
Kids who have established routines are more likely to follow these patterns through their lifetime. If you begin setting expectations for a clean and healthy smile when your child is young, it is a habit he or she will carry for years to come.
When should kids begin brushing teeth?
You should start cleaning your baby’s smile even before teeth erupt. After feedings, you can wipe the baby’s gums off with a clean, warm washcloth. This little bit of cleaning helps remove bacteria that can build up and affect gum health.
As your child grows and teeth come in, you can switch to a small, soft tooth brush. Brush the gums and little teeth after meals.
By the time your child is two, you can begin adding a small bit of toothpaste to the tooth brush. Your child should start learning how to spit, rinse, and begin holding the tooth brush to start getting the hang of brushing teeth regularly.
Have your child brush his or her teeth twice a day; you can assist a young child with flossing, preferably once per day, at night, to get them used to doing it and how it feels. Especially as your child’s diet develops to include more sticky, chewy foods, the more important it is to brush and floss regularly.
2. Be Mindful of Diet
Speaking of food, it is important to establish health eating from the start. Encouraging more vegetables and fruits can help keep teeth naturally healthy, with the help of vitamins and minerals.
Similarly, dairy items – such as cheese, yogurt, and milk – can strengthen teeth with calcium.
Reduce the amount of sugar and other acidic foods in your child’s diet. Sugars and acids can wear down the enamel on your child’s teeth, making teeth more prone to cavities and long-lasting dental problems.
Items like candies and sodas are some of the prime reasons cavities develop in children. Set limits on the number of candy or Cokes your child enjoys, or simply find ways to replace these items. Swapping candies for fruits and natural, fizzy drinks for Cokes can make a big difference.
Plus, if you are giving your child food that is chewy, like a bagel, or can stick in between teeth easily, like pesto or spinach, make sure brushing and flossing follows.
3. Take Care of Baby Teeth
Although baby teeth eventually fall out and make way for permanent teeth, it is crucial that baby teeth are still properly cared for and cleaned.
Ultimately, taking care of baby teeth means setting your child up for future oral health and success. The more you can keep teeth clean and make healthy dietary choices, the more your child will grow up with a smile free of decay and pain.
As your child’s teeth begin to come in, talk to Dr. Moore. We can offer solutions for teething, having healthy teeth and gums, and recommendations for keeping teeth looking their best.
4. Keep Accidents Away
While it is difficult to determine when an accident will happen, it is important to be as prepared as possible for them.
Many young patients, as they begin to walk and run, find themselves in dangerous situations for their smiles. Just as you have baby-proofed the rest of your home for safety, consider where teeth can be knocked out or chipped.
For instance, if you have a coffee table with rough corners, a brick hearth, or concrete steps leading into your home, add padding or other solutions to help your child avoid any accidents.
As your child gets older and takes a more active role in sports and outdoor activities, consider getting fitted for a mouthguard. Not only will protecting teeth during sports be good for your child’s smile, but it will also reduce the likelihood of injuries, which can make playing sports a lot less fun.
5. Make Visits to the Dentist Regularly
Once your child is one year old, you should come to our office to visit Dr. Moore. As teeth begin to erupt, Dr. Moore can identify any problems and make sure that teeth are growing well.
Visiting Dr. Moore early and regularly – twice a year – allows your child to be confident coming into the dentist. Even now, many of our patients experience fears of the dentist. By visiting a dentist who is calm, gentle, and patient, as Dr. Moore is, your child has only positive experiences with the dentist from the very beginning.
Dental appointments from a young age can reduce the amount of fear a child has as an adult coming to the dentist. The more trust you can help establish now will increase your child’s willingness to get cleanings and treatments in the future.
Family Dentist in Memphis, TN
Dr. Moore isn’t just a dentist; he is also a parent, too! Having someone who understands the importance of your child’s health and wellness, while also being a friendly face during each visit, truly matters.
Choosing a great dentist for your child can impact his or her future health and confidence in visiting a dentist. From baby teeth to braces and beyond, a dentist can be there for many milestones for your child, helping them create a beautiful smile.
Curious about how Dr. Moore and our office can help your entire family’s dental needs? Give us a call today to learn more.
This article was reviewed by Dr. Miles Moore of Memphis Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Moore is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists who has received extensive training in implant dentistry. He is a member of multiple dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, the American Academy of General Dentistry, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Memphis Dental Society.