Toddler Teeth: Terribly Important
When adults talk about what they wish they would have done differently in their lives, taking better care of teeth and gums is usually in the top 10. Senior citizens face dental challenges such as tooth loss, cavities, gum disease, dry mouth and other conditions that could have been prevented or minimized if better dental hygiene habits had been established early in life. Good oral hygiene and cavity prevention begin when the first tooth appears.
Teeth are the hardest substances in the human body. Besides being essential for chewing, the teeth play an important role in speech. It’s important for parents of toddlers to teach their children how to properly care for their teeth. Early preventative care saves money in the long run.
At age 1, babies should be taken to the dentist for a visit. Even though the baby teeth eventually fall out, it’s important to take care of them. Chewing, eating, and talking depend on them. At one year, you may begin to have questions about the care of your child’s teeth and gums. To keep your child smiling brightly, you’ll need to establish good habits and consider the dentist an important part of your child’s healthcare team.
Even an infant in arms should receive some attention to his/her gums. Before teeth appear, you can brush the gums with water and a baby toothbrush or water and a soft washcloth. As soon as a tooth appears, brush twice a day with an infant toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. At your first visit, Dr. T. Blake Maddox, Dr. Adam B. Graham, or Dr. Jing Li will discuss flossing with you and answer any questions you may have about upcoming dental concerns.
After the nightly tooth brushing ritual, don’t give your child any food and only water to drink until the next morning. Don’t put an infant to bed with a bottle of juice, formula, or milk. These sugary liquids stick to the teeth and feed bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
If your child asks for something to drink during the day, don’t offer options. The best liquid for hydration is water. Juice can lead to tooth decay so cut back on it. Experts recommend no more than 4 oz. a day of 100% fruit juice.
A sippy cup is great for that transition to a “real” cup, but don’t let your toddler carry one around all the time especially if it has anything sugary in it. This can lead to decay of the back of the upper teeth.
The number of cavities dentists see in children is rising. Decay and drilling can weaken the teeth and cause problems later in life. Helping your child establish good oral hygiene habits is the key to avoiding some serious medical issues. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings will ensure that your child’s teeth remain healthy and cavity free.