Prioritizing Children’s Dental Health: How to Take the Best Care of Your Child’s Smile

Children’s dental health is crucial for their well-being and development. Your child’s smile isn’t just cute—it helps them speak and chew properly. As such, it plays a significant role in their confidence and helps support their overall health.

Establishing a good oral hygiene routine from an early age can set children up for a lifetime of healthy smiles, so prioritizing your little one’s dental health is essential.

Here, we dig deeper into the importance of those baby teeth and provide practical tips on how to take the best care of your child’s smile.

Start Early for Lifelong Smiles in Asheville, NC

The journey to good dental health begins even before your child’s first tooth emerges. After each feeding, you can gently wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth to remove bacteria.

Once your baby has their first tooth, switch to a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and use just a smear of toothpaste—about the size of a grain of rice—to gently brush your child’s teeth.

As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, it’s time to start flossing. Gently guide the floss between their teeth and scrape up the sides of each tooth to remove any food particles or plaque.

Flossing helps prevent cavities between the teeth and promotes healthy gums by cleaning areas that a toothbrush can’t reach, making it an essential step in childhood dental care.

Establish a Daily Dental Routine

Like adults, children benefit from twice-daily tooth brushing, once in the morning before breakfast and once in the evening, at least 30 minutes after their last meal. Supervise your child’s brushing technique until they are around seven or eight years old to ensure thorough cleaning.

Teach children to brush all sides of their teeth, including the front, back, and chewing surfaces. Make brushing teeth fun by using colorful toothbrushes and playing their favorite songs while they brush.

Encourage a Healthy Diet

Proper nutrition plays a significant role in maintaining dental health. This is especially true for children whose baby teeth have weaker enamel than adult teeth and are more likely to be damaged by acids and bacteria that break down food particles in the mouth.

Limit sugary foods and beverages like candies, sodas, and fruit juices as they contribute to tooth decay. Instead, feed them a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Foods rich in nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium will help build strong teeth and bones.

Encourage drinking water instead of juice, which helps rinse away bacteria and keeps the mouth and body hydrated.

Get Regular Dental Checkups

Routine dental visits are crucial for monitoring your child’s oral health and identifying potential issues early on. You should schedule your child’s first dental appointment around their first birthday or as soon as their first tooth erupts.

These checkups allow your  family dentist to evaluate dental development, provide professional teeth cleanings, and offer guidance on proper oral hygiene techniques. By getting checkups every six months, you can prevent cavities from affecting your child’s smile.

Although cavities in baby teeth may not seem like a big deal, they impact your child more than you think. Baby teeth are there to guide the adult teeth into their proper positions. If these teeth fall out early due to decay, there’s a greater risk that your child’s permanent teeth will come in crooked.

Ask Your Dentist About Fluoride

Fluoride is essential in preventing tooth decay and strengthening tooth enamel. You can start using fluoride toothpaste once your child is two years old to protect their teeth and promote a healthy smile.

Depending on your child’s unique oral health, we may also recommend fluoride treatments during regular checkups to give your child’s teeth an extra layer of protection. These treatments typically involve a gel or varnish applied directly to the teeth.

It’s important to ensure your child has enough fluoride to protect their smile, so talk to your dentist about your child’s fluoride use to see if it’s appropriate for their age and dental health.

Consider Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are permanent thin coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars to protect them from decay. The sealants act as a barrier, preventing food particles and bacteria from getting trapped in the deep grooves of these teeth and causing enamel damage and cavities.

Children who don’t use fluoride or are at high risk for tooth decay can benefit from sealants to prevent cavities and protect the teeth. Talk to your child’s dentist about the appropriate timing for sealants and if your child could benefit from them.

Provide a Mouthguard for Sports

If your child participates in sports or activities with a risk of dental injury, make sure they wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards offer protection against dental trauma, such as chipped or knocked-out teeth, and are essential for contact sports like football or hockey.

A custom-made mouthguard provides better protection than store-bought ones and may even lower your child’s concussion risk during contact sports. Your child’s dentist can make a mouthguard that comfortably fits your child and properly protects their teeth.

Model Excellent Oral Care

Children often learn by imitating their parent’s behavior, so you play a bigger role than you think in protecting your child’s smile by caring for your own!

Lead by example and demonstrate good oral hygiene practices in your own daily routine. Brush your teeth with your child, let your child observe your flossing routine, and see your dentist regularly for checkups.

By modeling excellent oral care, you show your child how important taking care of their teeth and gums is for a healthy smile.

Schedule Your Child’s Next Checkup With Saunders DDS

Taking care of your child’s teeth helps set them up for a lifetime of healthy oral care habits and a beautiful smile. Schedule your child’s next dental checkup with Saunders DDS in Asheville. We provide oral care for the whole family, including preventative care to keep your smile healthy. Contact us today at (828) 277-6060 or reach us online to book an appointment.