Keeping Your Child's Mouth Healthy

Parents have so many responsibilities! Between daily care, educational and recreational pursuits, and just keeping kids from harm in general, it can be quite overwhelming to consider all the factors that go into raising healthy and happy children.

Teaching children to care for their bodies--specifically, their teeth and gums, is yet another challenge that parents must take on as part of responsible rearing. Many parents have questions regarding the appropriate stages of care--when it should begin, how to implement good oral health care at home, and how to set the stage for positive associations when caring for teeth. How can we manage all of this?

This how-to guide provides you with some advice and timing regarding caring for your child’s teeth. We will show you how to help them develop good habits at home and how to prioritize dental care as part of a health and wellness plan when they grow older. Follow these simple and straightforward tips for keeping your child’s mouth in optimal health:

Clean teeth and gums regularly.

Good oral health starts way before the first tooth appears in your baby's mouth. Even before baby starts teething, you should be running a clean damp washcloth over the gums and soft tissues in the mouth at least once daily to clean out harmful bacteria and stimulate blood flow that aids in smooth tooth eruption.

Once teeth start erupting through the gum line, clean on and around them with a soft-bristled brush and a tiny amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste; nothing larger than a grain of rice on the toothbrush to begin with. When teeth begin touching one another in the mouth, you can start flossing gently in between teeth to minimize the growth of bacteria and issues with excess food particles in the mouth.

Supervise children when learning to brush and care for teeth, and model good oral hygiene habits at home.

Kids are so smart; they will know when you aren’t practicing what you preach. Make tooth care fun by brushing and flossing together, giving each other tips on how you can each improve your technique. Have a tooth brushing contest to see who can brush the longest without laughing; praise them for performing desired behaviors and continue to model good behavior for them even when there are struggles. Over time, your prioritization of this skill will shape the belief that oral care is essential for good health.

Watch the diet!

Why are kids drawn to sugary, sticky drinks and snacks? It must be the attractive packaging---do what you can to limit the amount of sugary, sticky, and overly acidic foods that your child consumes. Avoid putting an infant to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, as the residue on teeth left after drinking can lead to early decay. Sticking to a diet of fresh produce, whole grains, and quality meats will reduce the incidence of disease and decay.

Take your child to the dentist on a regular basis.

There is no need to wait until the first tooth erupts through the gum line for your child; you can begin taking your child to the dentist as early as six months of age. These visits are a wonderful opportunity for your child to become familiar with the dental office environment, associate new faces as friendly ones, and receive gentle oral examinations that acclimate them to a more thorough exam later on. Once the first tooth erupts in your child’s mouth, schedule an initial exam and cleaning to check for abnormalities and structural deficiencies. Although rare, there are certain instances where early detection is key to receiving proper dental treatment.

Continue to model and associate good oral health as a positive aspect of self-care.

If you mumble and grumble about visiting your dentist, chances are that your child will soon develop a negative attitude about going as well. You must continue to model good habits and speak positively about visiting the dentist on a regular basis so your child can learn to associate dental care as a positive experience. The habits that you are setting them up with right now will be habits that they continue to foster as adults. Timing and attitude are critical elements in shaping your child’s view of dental care.

Make your appointments today!

Dr. Gordon Krueger, DDS, MS, PA and his talented team of professionals are committed to providing you with dental care that creates, restores, and maintains your most beautiful smile. Using cutting edge dental technologies, a commitment to quality care, and a passion for dental health, we will help you design a dental care plan that works for you and your budget. Make your appointment today; visit for more information. A vibrant smile will soon be yours!

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