Parents of small children have a lot going on! Between diaper changes, doctor’s appointments, play-dates, and the constant care required, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. You know that taking care of your little one’s teeth is important, but unfortunately, many children resist brushing and flossing initially. Combine that with the fact that many kids have a sweet tooth and you can see why it is common for young children to face dental challenges. It’s easy to see how dental health, while critical, is an area of confusion and struggle. 

These tips from a dentist in York, PA will alleviate your feeling of being overwhelmed and clear up any confusion regarding pediatric dental care. It is possible to take good care of your children’s dental health. Following these tips, you will help your children develop good habits that will protect their oral health for many years. 

1. Don’t ignore the importance of your child’s dental health

The first bit of advice seems obvious. No parent wants to ignore any aspect of their children’s health. However, dental health is an area that can be easy to overlook, especially in the first few years of a child’s life. 

Many parents don’t stress the importance of healthy dental habits with their children when they are young. This may be because parents falsely assume that whatever issues a baby tooth may have won’t matter once it falls out and the adult teeth grow in. This assumption is dangerous. The health of your child’s baby teeth directly impacts their adult dental health. Issues with primary teeth should always be addressed promptly. 

2. Start brushing as soon as your baby’s teeth are visible

Brushing should begin as soon as your baby has a tooth. The earlier you start, the better. Brushing removes the plaque and bits of food that accumulate on teeth. Bacteria in the plaque produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel. If left untouched, this eventually leads to cavities and gum disease. 

Follow these tips to help your child brush:

  • Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice for children under age 3 and no larger than a pea-sized amount for older children)
  • Brush with gentle pressure, moving in a circular scrubbing motion on all tooth surfaces. 
  • Brush 2x daily: once in the morning and once at night.
  • Brushing should take about 2 minutes. An easy way to accomplish this is to sing or play a song to your child as they brush their teeth. Using music as a timer can help make brushing more fun and train them to brush for an appropriate length of time.
  • Use a fun app to make brushing time more interesting. Disney Magic Timer by Oral B uses Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars characters to make brushing for two minutes more appealing for children. 

3. Build a flossing habit

Flossing is a habit that many people (adults and children!) struggle to maintain. Once your child has two teeth touching, they should start flossing. Flossing is the only way to clean the sides of teeth that the bristles from your toothbrush can’t touch. 

If your child is very young you will need to floss for them. Once they are older you can teach them how to use floss string or get them using floss picks. Floss picks may be easier for little hands until they develop the hand muscles needed to navigate floss string. 

Flossing can be hard for children to learn and can feel uncomfortable if they are not used to it, so be sure to praise them every time they finish flossing and try to keep it light-hearted. 

4. Schedule regular dental cleanings

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, your child should see a dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.  Taking your child to a dentist at a young age has several benefits.

First, they will become accustomed to going to the dentist’s office and, therefore will not be as fearful as children who did not get early exposure to the dental office. Secondly, your child’s dentist will be able to monitor the health and development of your child’s teeth as they grow. Regularly scheduled check-ups and cleanings can help prevent cavities and other dental issues before they become major problems. 

5. Pay attention to diet

Most parents know they should limit sugary treats and drinks. The bacteria in plaque feed on these sugars and are especially problematic when they get stuck in and around the grooves of your child’s teeth. Likewise, gummy candies and foods should be avoided if possible. 

However, life happens, and if your child has a treat, don’t worry. Just try to brush their teeth as soon as possible. If brushing is not practical at the time, have your child drink plenty of water as the water helps to rinse away sugars and other bits of food remaining after we eat. 

In addition to avoiding sugary foods, incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and veggies into your child’s diet. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best foods for dental health because of their high nutritional value. 

Fresh fruits and veggies are some of the best foods for dental health because they have a high nutritional value. Calcium-rich foods such as low-fat dairy, salmon, almonds, and dark leafy greens also support strong teeth and bones. 

Limiting sugary treats and drinks is especially important as sugar can lead to cavities. If your child has a treat, brush their teeth as soon after as possible. Drinking water throughout the day, especially after meals and snacks, can help to rinse their teeth when brushing is not available. 

By paying attention to these tips from a dentist in York, PA, parents can ensure healthy smiles for their children. Consistent brushing, flossing, regular check-ups, and following a nutritious diet are habits that, if instilled early on, will empower their children to prioritize their oral health for years to come.
At White Rose Family Dental, we’d love to partner with you to maintain your children’s dental health. Call us today or click here to set up an appointment! (717) 822-0272

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