As modern dentistry continues to improve, children can expect entirely different dental experiences than Mom and Dad remember from childhood. Fluorides and sealants have virtually eliminated rampant decay problems. For kids nowadays, dental care is be a piece of cake.
Baby teeth do grown-up duty
Primary teeth work hard. Those 20 teeth pave the way for permanent teeth. If they’re lost prematurely, replacement teeth can crop up in unexpected—and unhealthy—places. Keep every tooth you can in that young noggin.
Despite parent’s best efforts, dental accidents sometimes happen and children get knocked-out teeth. If it’s not a skateboard accident, it’s falling out of trees or an accident on the playground. And children of any age who participate in a sports where contact is likely to occur should always be sure to use a properly fitted mouthguard.
That all-important first visit to the dentist should come early on. We need a little time to gain trust, so we’d rather see a child very young—before he or she needs to see a drill.
What about newborns?
You can get your child used to the feeling of a clean mouth, even before baby teeth begin to emerge! Begin in babyhood, gently rubbing teeth and gums with a pad of gauze or damp cloth after every feeding. This is when positive health attitudes begin.
A study of tooth brushing techniques in groups of children aged 7 through 11 shows definite styles of brushing, according to age. Younger children use long, exuberant, not-too-effective strokes (parents must help!) and fewer of them; older kids use more pressure and more frequent shorter strokes. Practice, practice, practice.
Guide your Child Toward Self-Care
Parenting is a tricky business. It begins with total control over an infant’s welfare. Over years, power and responsibility transfer to the child, developing eventual self-reliance.
|Infancy (birth-2 years)
|Totally dependent on you for proper diet and oral hygiene.
|Toddler/Preschooler (2-5 years)
|Providing direct instruction and supervision of dental and dietary habits.
|Learns brushing, flossing techniques and good eating/snacking habits.
|Primary School (5-13 years)
|Continued supervision and guidance.
|Brushes/flosses regularly and independently.
|Adolescence (13-19 years)
|A good role model, offering support and approval of good eating/oral health habits.
|Functioning independently, and beginning to appreciate the value of conscious dental self-care.