February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and a perfect time for Dr. Miller and the team at Children's Dental Clinic of Green Bay to review some of the important steps in keeping not only your child’s smile healthy but also your own!
Many parents are super busy with work, school, and sports activities. A busy schedule can put our health and especially our dental health on the back burner. It has been proven and shown that preventative dental care can prevent decay and unnecessary dental appointments if we brush twice a day, floss once a day and have dental exams every six months.
It might be challenging to get your child into a regular dental routine but we have some tips and tricks that can help. Start by making your routine a habit. If you do it repeatedly, your child will know that it is important and is expected. Make brushing fun by setting timers, including music, brushing charts or trying out a few different dental apps. Also, make sure to brush and floss while your child does, modeling can be the biggest motivator!
Children can be nervous about visiting the dentist. We recommend explaining what will happen and if a parent has any questions, they can always call the office and ask how the appointment will go. Explain that as a parent, you also go to the dentist. Many parents bring their children to their appointments if possible. There are many books and movies that show favorite characters going to the dental office.
Parents should first plan a visit to the dentist for their child when their first tooth starts to erupt or by their first birthday. The earlier your child starts visiting the dentist the quicker they will become comfortable with the dental setting. Before teeth start to erupt a parent can wipe the mouth and gums with a soft, wet washcloth. Once teeth start to erupt, they can use a small, soft toothbrush or a small finger brush.
When your child reaches the toddler stage of their development tooth care will look different from when they were babies. Since toddlers can not fully spit or expectorate, we advise using a training gel or paste that does not contain fluoride. Encourage this daily routine of brushing in the morning and most importantly before bedtime and flossing anywhere that teeth are touching or contacting each other.
Encourage your child to start brushing on their own for 2-3 minutes with a fluoridated toothpaste once they can spit. A parent should always observe or follow up with brushing themselves, as children have been shown to not develop fine motor skills until about age 9. We aim for 2-3 minutes of brushing a day, but that can be split up into smaller increments tailored to the attention span of each child!
There is fluoride in most children's toothpaste and if they do not spit out after brushing, this fluoride will be ingested. Usually the amount of fluoride in their drinking water and foods they ingest in enough for the developing permanent teeth. If additional fluoride from toothpaste is ingested, it may cause permanent dark staining or a condition called Fluorosis on the permanent teeth.
If you have any questions or concerns or want to learn more, Dr. Miller is always happy to discuss them with you—any time of year! We can’t wait to see you and your family in our office again soon.