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Dental Tips for Healthy Teeth

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Tooth Tips For Children Ages 0 – 3

We welcome first dental visits! The earlier you start your child's routine of going to the dentist, the more likely he or she will be to continue the habit into adulthood. The first dental visit should be soon after their first tooth erupts into the mouth or by the age of one. We recommend that your child be seen at least twice per year for dental exams and cleanings. The first dental appointment will be short and informal. Depending on the situation, you may be asked to hold your child on your lap.  As your child gets older, there may be a time that you are asked to wait in the reception area so your toddler can get to know the dentist and staff on their own.

Dr. Margaret Miller will check for possible tooth decay and examine your child's gums, soft tissue and bite. She will also discuss the role that fluoride plays in your child's existing and developing permanent teeth. She will also talk to you about good oral hygiene habits, review the role of nutrition in your child’s developing teeth, and give you the chance to ask any questions you may have.

Your child’s first primary or “baby” teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of 6 – 12 months. They will continue to erupt until about age 3. During this time, your child’s gums may feel tender and sore. To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to use a chilled, soft teething ring.

How To Prevent Early Childhood Tooth Decay

  1. Limit the use of frequent sugary liquids such as milk, breast milk, fruit juice and soda 
  2. Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup
  3.  Avoid nursing children to sleep
  4.  Do not put honey or sugar on your child’s pacifier
  5. Avoid at-will breast feeding once the first teeth have erupted
  6. Begin weaning your child off the bottle around age one.
Tooth decay in baby teeth can harm adult teeth that are forming in the jaws. Always wipe your child’s mouth and gums with a soft, wet washcloth or toothbrush. Children with healthy teeth will chew food easily and smile with confidence!

How To Help Your Child With A Sucking Habit

Most sucking habits will stop before the age of four. Continuous thumb or pacifier sucking can cause problems with proper growth and tooth alignment. How often, how long and the intensity of sucking usually determines if dental problems will result. In many cases, the front teeth will move forward and often lead to an open bite and speech concerns. To decrease the need for braces, try to discourage a sucking habit as soon as possible.

  • Use praise for not sucking, do not scold
  • Focus on the reason or anxiety that causes your child to seek comfort
  • Place a sock on your child's hand at night as a reminder
  • You can place a bitter-tasting polish on the thumbnail
  • An oral appliance may also be necessary

How To Relieve The Pain Of Teething
You can rub your child's gums with a cold, wet washcloth or your finger. A chilled, teething ring may also help. Usually teething does not cause a high temperature or fever so if this is the case with your child, you may want to contact your physician.

Tooth Tips For Children Ages 3 – 6

Your child’s primary teeth are lost at various times throughout childhood and their permanent teeth will begin erupting about age 6 and continue to about age 20. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, 32 if you include the third molars or wisdom teeth.​

How To Experience Fear-Free Dental Visits

If your child has a fear of new experiences, noises or strangers, do not worry. Dr. Margaret Miller will earn your child's trust and make the dental office a fun place to visit. Sometimes it helps if you take your child to the dentist with you so they know that mom and dad are not afraid of the dentist. If a parent has a fear of the dentist, your child may pick up on these negative feelings. Be careful to choose the way you talk about the dentist in front of your child. Never threaten a visit to the dentist if they do not brush or need to have a cavity filled.

How To Teach Your Child To Brush

  • Be animated, sing or make brushing a game
  • Get down to their level, make sure you can easily see into their mouth
  • Brush together so your child can imitate what you do
  • Brush twice a day using non-fluoride gel until your child can spit
  • Brush in gentle, slow circles with a soft toothbrush
  • Use a rice size amount of fluoride paste when your child is able to spit

Your Child's Teeth And Diet

Plaque is the sticky, white film of bacteria that forms on the surfaces of teeth. When you add sugar from foods and drinks, the bacteria produce acids. These acids break down the enamel and cause tooth decay. Encourage a balanced diet and limit snacking to healthy options like fruit, veggies and cheese.

When To Floss Your Child's Teeth

You should floss your child's teeth as soon as the teeth start to touch one another. You can wrap the floss around your fingers or use one of the flossing aides that have a handle at one end. Gently rock the floss in between the tight area and rub each surface of both teeth. Floss your child's teeth once a day.

Most children can start flossing their own teeth around age 7 when their dexterity has improved.