Good habits and dental hygiene are important throughout your life, but each stage comes with a few different concerns. At the Dental Centres, we want to make sure that you and every member of your family stays healthy throughout your life. That’s why we’re kicking off a new blog series about the different challenges or concerns we face in each phase of our lives. Today, we begin with dental health for toddlers! Read on to learn more about how you can keep your toddler healthy, and contact the Dental Centre today to schedule their first dentist appointment.
Prevent Tooth Decay
Believe it or not, there are several things that can make your toddler vulnerable to tooth decay even before they are old enough to start craving sweets. It may only affect their temporary baby teeth, but tooth decay in any context can endanger your child’s oral health.
Limit Bottle Time
One possible cause of tooth decay in toddlers is too much time with a bottle. This is especially true if you fill it with sugary drinks like juice or soft drinks. Even if the bottle is empty and you are using it in place of a pacifier or to soothe your child when you put them to bed, this extensive amount of time suckling on a bottle can lead to oral health problems. Try to limit your child’s time with a bottle to feeding times only, and only fill the bottle with formula or milk.
A lack of fluoride can also make your toddler susceptible to tooth decay. Once their teeth start to come in, you can brush them with fluoride toothpaste, but make sure to keep the amount very small. At the beginning, start with a small amount of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. From the ages of 3 to 6 you can use more — about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. You should supervise any brushing your child does themselves until they are at least 6 or 7 and you can trust them not to swallow the toothpaste.
Monitor Thumb Sucking
Thumbsucking is a reflex for many children, and it can be a soothing action while they are young. As they grow older, however, it can cause problems with the growth and alignment of their teeth. Most children naturally quit the habit around the ages of 2 to 4 or whenever their teeth begin to emerge. If you notice your child hanging onto the habit past this point, or you see changes in their teeth, then contact a Dental Centre near you.
Schedule a Dentist Appointment
It’s never too early to be thinking about dental health. Once your baby’s first tooth appears, you should schedule a dentist appointment within six months. Try not to wait any longer than their first birthday. Aside from ensuring that their gums are clean and healthy as their baby teeth come in, your dentist can help you address any concerns you may have about the issues we discuss in today’s article.
Encourage Good Habits
Teach Effective Brushing
Once your little one has teeth to clean, you should teach them how to brush properly. Start with a gentle, soft-bristle brush and show them how to brush thoroughly — make sure they brush the inside and outside of their teeth, as well as their gums and their tongue.
Practice Brushing Twice a Day
Knowing how to properly brush their teeth is one thing — making it a habit is something else you should help them with. We recommend brushing at least twice a day, so set regular times in the morning and evening to practice brushing together. Once your child is used to including it as part of their routine, it will be easier for them to remember and stay committed to regular brushing as they grow older.
You wouldn’t skip your toddler’s checkup with the pediatrician — you shouldn’t avoid the dentist either! Your child’s oral health affects more than their temporary baby teeth, and it’s important that you work with professionals like the team at a Dental Centre near you to ensure they grow up with a happy and healthy smile. Schedule your baby’s first dentist appointment today, and don’t forget to look for our next article in this series on dental health concerns for older children.