The dentists and staff at Dental Associates of Delaware in Brandywine, Hockessin, Middletown, Newark, and Wilmington, DE would like to remind parents that February is Children’s Dental Health Month in the United States. During this month, dentists raise awareness about the importance of early dental care. We want to help kids and their parents learn how to develop good habits at an early age so that they get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
In observance of Children’s Dental Health Month, we would like to provide the parents of our young patients with a few tips about pediatric dental care.
Cleaning Baby Teeth
Your young child’s first teeth are called primary or “baby” teeth. These teeth are very important for many reasons. Not only do they help your child speak clearly and chew naturally, but they also help in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are about to erupt. You can clean your child’s baby teeth with a soft toothbrush designed for young children. This will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. You should brush your young child’s teeth at least once a day, preferably at bedtime.
Making Your Child’s Diet Safe for His or Her Teeth
It’s important that you provide your child with a well-balanced diet. Try to include one serving per meal of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products and meat, fish and or eggs. Limit the amount of sugar and starches your child eats so that his or her teeth are protected against decay. If you eat a well-balanced diet, which includes plenty of healthy foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, your child will see that you enjoy eating these foods as well, which may help encourage him or her to do the same.
Avoiding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants and young children is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. It occurs when milk or formula clings to the teeth for long periods of time. The bacteria in the mouth thrives on the sugar in the milk or formula to produce acids that attack and decay teeth. In order to prevent baby bottle tooth decay, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth after each feeding and never allow your child to sleep while nursing or while eating from a bottle. When the first tooth comes in, begin brushing your child’s teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for a baby. You also should clean and massage the gums in areas without teeth.
Handling a Thumb Sucking Habit
Many parents of young children wonder how to break their children’s habits of sucking their thumbs. It should be noted that thumb sucking habits in young children are common because kids find comfort in the habit. But sometimes this habit can lead to problems with the teeth and can inhibit proper mouth growth. Some common teeth problems associated with thumb sucking include:
- misaligned teeth
- open bites
- cross bites
The majority of infants do suck their thumbs or fingers but if your child is getting permanent teeth, it’s time to be more concerned.
There is no magic technique for getting a child to stop sucking his or her thumb. The best route to take is to provide your child with gentle reminders without scolding. Try to get your child busy doing other activities. If you see that your child is sucking his or her thumb less frequently, you’re on the right track. If you don’t have any luck breaking the habit, give us a call and we’ll help you assess the situation and provide further tips for how you can help your child break the habit.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for your child, please give one of our Delaware offices a call so that we can set up an appointment time. We offer personalized care for patients as young as three years old in our welcoming and comfortable environment. We promise to provide your child with the best care and treatment and will strive to make the visit a positive experience that will encourage your child to adopt healthy habits for a lifetime.