Children’s teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they begin to come through their gums. The American Dental Association recommends that the first visit to a dentist occurs “within six months of eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age”. Beginning and maintaining good dental health at a young age is the first line of defense against tooth decay and damage. Here are three more ways to maintain a healthy smile:
1. Good Nutrition
A good diet is crucial to a child’s growth and development. Healthy teeth are needed to chew food, speak properly, and maintain a healthy smile. One of the biggest contributors to tooth decay in children is sugar and, unfortunately, nearly every food contains some kind of sugar. Your best defense against excess sugar intake is to look at food labels and be aware of sugar content. Monitoring your child’s eating to ensure they are eating healthy foods and not too much sugar is essential to good dental health. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, a balanced diet for children should include fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, and lean proteins. They recommend that fruits and vegetables should be half of what your child eats each day.
2. Good Dental Practices
There is no better way to maintain a healthy smile than to implement and practice good dental health routines. This includes regular dentist visits and daily flossing and brushing. The American Dental Association recommends that children brush two times a day for two minutes, using the correct amount of toothpaste for their age (a grain of rice for children younger than 3, a pea-sized amount for children 3 to 6). Children should begin flossing as soon as they have two teeth that touch and you should monitor flossing and brushing until you feel comfortable that your child can handle these routines on their own.
Fluoride is a mineral that is essential to healthy teeth. It occurs naturally in all water sources, including tap water, and is added to toothpastes and mouth rinses for its health benefits,which include making tooth enamel more resistant to decay and repairing weakened enamel. If your child doesn’t get enough fluoride they may be at increased risk for tooth decay. Oral rinses and toothpastes for children that include fluoride should be used in daily brushing routines.
Starting good oral health routines early will ensure your child knows how to take care of their teeth, and maintain a health smile as they grow.