Preventive dental care is important throughout life, especially at a young age. Oral care should actually start at birth, by wiping the gum pads after feedings. Dr. Wilkerson teaches parents to start early and gives tips and techniques that will allow them to be both effective and efficient. Obviously infants need parents to perform oral care as they are incapable of doing it themselves.
Your child should visit The Kid’s Place by the time their first tooth appears so our team can demonstrate how you can clean their mouth and teeth. Parents should continue to brush and floss their children’s teeth until manual dexterity and fine motor skills are developed, usually around third- to fifth-grade. Children that can brush and floss well can also efficiently tie their own shoes, write neatly in cursive, and have developed great hand/eye coordination. Once your child demonstrates these skills, you can let them brush and floss their own their own without help, but continue supervision until your child is competent. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular checkups with Dr. Wilkerson, your child will have a smile that’s bright and healthy for many years to come.
Preventing Plaque and Cavities
- Make sure you brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque from the tooth surfaces. Also brush the top surface of their tongue; this will remove any extra plaque-causing food particles and help keep their breath fresh!
- Make sure you clean between your child’s teeth by flossing at least once a day. You can also use a mouthwash to help kill bacteria and freshen their breath. Decay-causing bacteria can linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Floss and mouthwash will help remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
- Avoid feeding or nursing infants to sleep. Make sure their teeth are clean prior to laying down to sleep or nap.
- Avoid sweetened beverages between meals.
- Make sure your child eats a balanced diet, and try to avoid extra-sugary treats. Nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, or fruit can help keep your child’s smile healthy.
- Schedule regular dental checkups every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.
- Ask about dental sealants, a protective plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
- If your child plays sports, be sure they wear a mouthguard designed to protect their smile!
Brushing and Flossing Tips
Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gum.
Brush gently in a circular motion.
Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth!
Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers as shown. Most of it should be wrapped around one finger, and as the floss is used, the other finger takes it up.
Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.
Holding the floss tightly, gently saw the floss between your teeth. Then curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it beneath your gums.
Slide the floss up and down, repeating for each tooth.