Getting kids to brush their teeth has been a struggle as old as dentistry. We have some proven tips and suggestions to help your kids develop good habits.
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“Two” is the magic number when it comes to healthy teeth. Dentists recommend brushing a minimum of twice a day – in the morning and just before bedtime – for at least two minutes. To help children focus on brushing for at least two minutes, play their favorite song for them to brush along to. Most songs are about three minutes, and this helps make the event more fun for the children! Alternatively, you can use a basic sand or kitchen timer, or some of the electric toothbrushes have built in timers and / or will play a tune when the child has brushed for at least two minutes.
As soon as the spaces between the teeth have closed, the toothbrush can no longer adequately clean there and flossing is required. This is usually between ages 2-3 when all of the primary teeth have erupted. Usually it helps to start flossing early to help your child become accustomed to the routine. Standard floss can be used or there are "flossers" available in fun colors and shapes.
The ground water in the Truckee Meadows is naturally optimally fluoridated; however, people on city water only get their water after all of the fluoride has been screened out of it. Fluoride is important during the developing dentition as it helps develop healthy teeth and prevent early tooth decay, one of the most common childhood diseases. If you are on well water, we can help you get your water tested to check the amount of fluoride present. If you give your child bottled water only, check the label to be sure it’s fluoridated. Bring your questions about fluoride to your child’s next dental visit.
Sealants are thin plastic coatings that protect teeth from decay. They’re applied to the grooves on teeth to keep out germs and food particles. It’s best to apply the first sealants just after the first permanent molars come up and before decay starts to occur – at about age 5 or 6. As your child gets older and more permanent teeth erupt, your dentist will recommend these new teeth receive sealants, too.
Primary or Baby Teeth -
Your child should eventually have 20 primary teeth erupt. Each one is important for helping them speak normally and chew naturally. “Baby” teeth also control the growth pattern of the face and hold space for permanent teeth to come in properly. When the first tooth appears, schedule a pediatric dental visit and begin using a soft-bristle, age-appropriate toothbrush twice a day.
Sippy Cup / Bottle Use -
Children and parents love sippy cups and bottles because they are familiar and because there are no spills! We recommend that children are weaned from the sippy cup and bottle by age 1. If your child uses either after that age, be sure that it is only for WATER! Drinks like that contain juice, soda or other sweet liquids encourages more frequent use and greatly increases the risk for cavities.
Gingivitis, or gum disease, affects children and adults. Some of the symptoms of gingivitis include: bleeding, red or swollen gums; bad breath that doesn't seem to go away; loose, flapping gums. If caught early enough, this infection is treatable.
Tooth Decay -
Tooth decay is the result of a bacterial infection of the teeth and must be treated by a dental professional. Fillings may be used to restore limited decay on teeth. Severe or multi-surface decay may require a crown, root canal or removal of the tooth. Tooth decay and cavities can be avoided if children receive regular dental checkups beginning by age 1, a healthy diet, and daily brushing and flossing.
Teeth grinding (or “bruxism”) may sound scary coming from young mouths, but it usually isn’t harmful. Grinding is common in children under age 7 and typically stops when their six-year permanent molars come through. There are many reasons why a child might grind their teeth, but fortunately most kids will outgrow their habit. Tell your dentist about any occurrences of your child grinding that you have noticed. Grinding can cause your child's teeth to wear down faster, but be assured most grinding will not require any additional treatment on the baby teeth. Your dentist will observe and monitor your child's teeth grinding at each recall visit until the habit ceases. If it continues into the permanent dentition, your dentist might recommend a night guard be worn.
Tooth Injuries -
Any trauma resulting in a tooth injury will require a trip to the dentist. It is a good idea to always have some Hank's Balanced Salt Solution (HBSS) on hand when you have children in case of a lost tooth. If a tooth is knocked completely out, rinse it under warm water, gently push it back in the socket and hold it there or place it in a cup of HBSS or milk. Remember to bring the tooth with you to the dentist! NEVER scrub the tooth or remove attached tissue. For a broken tooth, gently clean the injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses on the face to decrease swelling.
Thumb Sucking / Pacifier -
To prevent alterations in the eruption of the permanent dentition, your child should stop any thumb or pacifier habits prior to their fourth birthday. Most children will outgrow these habits by age five, but if it continues after permanent teeth start coming in, dental or speech problems may occur. Children can develop teeth that stick out or don’t close properly or a lisp. Ask your dentist for advice on breaking this habit.
Flossing is hard, even for adults. But developing the practice in children isn't as hard as you think and sets them on the road for positive oral health.
It all starts when your baby's first teeth start coming on. Do you need to brush? Obviously you can't floss it yet. Get the answers you need.
Limited to Pediatric Dentistry
Teething time can be stressful for parents and babies alike. Find out how best to handle that beautiful set of teeth that are coming in from a trusted source.
Small Smiles is locally owned and operated and has been serving the children of the Truckee Meadows since 2005. At Small Smiles, our mission is to give our community's kids the smiles they deserve. We cheerfully accept Children's Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Programs in addition to private insurance and cash payments.