I know when I became a parent everyone was offering up parental advice that they felt was absolutely necessary to know. Everything from the best car seat to the best diaper brands…you know to avoid the inevitable “blow out”. If you are a parent you most likely have had the unfortunate pleasure of this experience. And, if you’re a good friend you’ve probably done your best to keep your loved ones from suffering the same embarrassment you did.
Since the holidays are upon us I’d like to continue with the spirit of passing along good advice, here’s what I learned about my children’s’ dental health. While, as an adult I understand the importance of dental health, I now also know the importance of passing on my good habits to my kids…and the sooner, the better.
Good dental health actually begins before your baby is even born. Prenatal vitamins and overall healthy habits contribute to healthy baby teeth. And any dentist will tell you that prevention is always better than treatment. By actively preventing dental disease and decay with daily dental care basics, professional dental cleanings, and regular exams your children can maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.
Regular brushing is your best investment. As a mom, and as a dentist, I always tell my patients effective prevention helps avoid costly treatments to remove decay, restore teeth and treat gum disease. I, as well as most dentists, recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes. Be sure to use a soft bristled toothbrush, moving the brush in a circular motion over the entire surface of each tooth.
As our child grew, so did our dental routine. Along with brushing, I introduced flossing and a fluoride rinse to the routine. Children can begin using an antiseptic and fluoride rinse as directed, usually around 6 years of age, which will complement their daily routine. However, always ask your dentist or doctor if a fluoride rinse is right for your child. If large amounts are swallowed, the fluoride can be harmful. So, monitor your youngster while using a fluoride rinse, making sure they are swishing and spitting. This fluoride is incorporated in the outer surface of the teeth, helping to make them stronger and more resistant to decay formation.
If you do not want to use a fluoride rinse, it can be applied during the dental visit. Most dental practices use a fluoride varnish for children. The varnish is like a sticky paint that is applied to the teeth, you can eat and drink right away after the application and the kids are told not to brush their teeth until the next morning, to get the best benefit of the fluoride varnish. There are also at-home fluorides available for daily use in between dental visits.
The biggest means of prevention is a healthy diet. As parents we want the best for our kids and that means a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Parental assisted ‘at home’ oral health routines is also essential to the success of your child’s dental habits and routine. Most importantly, preventative dentistry results in less expensive dental care, so you can spend your money having fun with your kids, not on their dental care.
Have a lovely holiday!