Keeping your child’s teeth healthy means more than just daily brushing, it consists of developing a proper oral regime including, brushing, proper oral health techniques and regular visits to the dentist. At these visits, your dentist will talk about your child’s teeth, brushing and how much water they drink. Your child’s water intake is important as tap water contains fluoride which plays an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention.
You should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as their first tooth develops. However, you should start cleaning their gums with a soft cloth within the first few weeks of their birth. Once those first teeth start coming through the gums, begin brushing them with a soft brush and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). Once your child becomes better at spitting (which happens around age three or four), use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste making sure they spit rather than swallow the toothpaste. The American Dental Association notes that parents should not recommend that their kids use a fluoride toothpaste until age two and fluoride mouthwash until age six. It’s important to monitor your children until the ages about five or six to ensure they have the oral regime down pat.
Fluoride protects teeth by making your child’s teeth stronger and more resistant to acid. In fact, according to Colgate and the Centers for Disease Control, it reports that water fluoridation can reduce tooth decay in children by 18 and 40 per cent. It not only reduces the risk of cavities, it can even help reverse early signs of decay.
The first visit to the dentist should be around your child’s first birthday. This early start is important for you and your child to begin good habits and develop a positive relationship with your dentist. Remember, if your baby has teeth, they can get cavities.
Because fluoride is found naturally in water, some soils and foods, it’s important to not give/expose your children to too much fluoride as it can cause ailments such as dental fluorosis (white specks or streaks in the teeth due to over exposure to fluoride), and more severe health issues like bone disease (skeletal fluorosis), thyroid and neurological problems.
Using fluoride for children is an effective way to make sure your little ones have the healthiest smiles possible. To find out more about whether your child is getting the right levels of fluoride, talk to your family dentist about your child’s tooth care routine.
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A version of this post was first published on Altima Dental Blog