When you have a baby, the hospital staff advises you on keeping your infant healthy. They offer advice for diet, vaccinations, childhood diseases – but you don’t hear much about dental care for your child. Dental caries (the disease that causes cavities) is the most widespread childhood disease. Also, studies show that oral health greatly influences overall health. For these reasons, parents should be equipped with information and resources to keep their children’s mouths healthy.
As your child grows, the dental care he needs will change.
Infants: Even infants require attention to dental health. After feedings, rub a clean, damp cloth along the top and bottom of your baby’s gums.
Toddlers: Schedule your child’s first visit before his first birthday. You can get an early start on dental health by using water and a soft brush to clean emerging teeth. Also, to prevent tooth decay, children should never fall asleep with a bottle filled with anything but water. To soothe teething, use a wet wash-cloth, a cooled teething ring, or your clean finger to massage the gums.
Preschoolers: Your child should have his first “real” visit around age two and begin regular dental cleanings around the age of four. Help your child brush his teeth using a soft-bristled brush and a pea-size amount of unfluoridated toothpaste. Even at this young age, regular visits every six months are important to maintain oral health by addressing cavities, development issues, or gum irritation.
School Age: Many changes in oral health can occur during the adolescent stage of life. It’s especially important for school age children and teenagers to be confident in their smiles. Some adolescents may need special attention, such as cosmetic or orthodontic procedures. Crooked or misaligned teeth can cause problems for teens later on in life. Untreated, these problems could cause more severe problems, such as chronic headaches and backaches. Regular visits are vital to make sure your child enjoys good oral health now and in the future.
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