Children and Their Teeth

BY Emily Birch

Since we have been open I have had several questions from parents about their child’s teeth. There is a lot of information out there and I would like to help you sift though it all and give you some food for thought, sugar free of course!

  • When should I take my child to the dentist?
    • Children should have their first dental appointment when their first tooth appears, but no later than their first birthday.
  • When should my child start brushing and for how long should my child be brushing his/her teeth?
    • We recommend that you encourage tooth brushing from the first time you see a tooth in their mouth. I still recommend that they do the full 2 minutes a day 2 times a day, and floss once a day. Part of this is setting up your child with healthy habits, the sooner that they can develop a habit of good oral heath the more likely they will stick with it as an adult. .
  • What kind of tooth brush work best for kids?
    • I have found that toothbrushes with smaller heads work really well with children. They can use a normal adult tooth brush but I have found that to not be as comfortable and that the child is not able to access everywhere with the larger head tooth brush. There are so many choices out there for kids toothbrushes from fully automatic tooth brushes to regular manual tooth brushes. In our office we give our younger patients these kind and have found that the kids enjoy brushing with all the Disney characters. In my experience the best kids tooth brush is the one that they will use the most.
  • Electric or manual toothbrush?
    • I have to defer to the above answer. The best tooth brush is the one that they use the most. With that said, I have found that when kids use an electric toothbrush often times their teeth and gums look a little healthier. That is not to say that healthy teeth and gums can’t be gotten with a manual toothbrush. It means that you have to be a little more judicious about scrubbing all the surfaces of the teeth and gums. The electric toothbrushes that we recommend at our office can be seen by following this link here.
  • If my child has cavities should I have them filled or wait till their adult teeth come in?
    • It is a risk to let decay run rampant in your child’s mouth. If decay is left in the tooth it can progress to the pulp of the tooth, and cause dental infections. There is a fairly strong connection between the body’s overall health and the health of ones teeth and gums. More information on the link between the mouth and the rest of the body can be found at this link. So it is important for our overall health that we take care of our oral health. Keep in mind as well that the goal is to set up healthy habits for your child and just as you would take your child to a medical provider when they have an ear infection or a tummy ache for treatment, the same thing goes for your child’s teeth.
  • My child has stinky breath, what can I do about that?
    • First and foremost I would make sure that the brushing and flossing are happening. Be sure that your child is brushing all of their teeth, it is a common thing to see the front teeth brushed really well but not as well on the back teeth. All teeth need the same maintenance and daily brushing routine. In addition to the brushing ensure that your child is flossing regularly. Flossing allows the child to get all the food particles and other stuff out from between their teeth. The food and other stuff can contribute to poor smelling breath. Now, something that is often forgotten when brushing is brushing the tongue. The back of the tongue is a large contributor of poor smelling breath and ensuring that the tongue is clean will help reduce the smell of the bad breath.
  • Can drinking from a sippy cup cause my child’s teeth to be crooked?
    • Yes, it has been demonstrated pretty clearly the sustained use of a sippy cup with a hard plastic spout can cause a child’s teeth to come in crooked. Now, are a hand full of uses going to cause this, probably not. However, with prolonged use it can cause some crookedness in the future. I recommend that you use a sippy cut that does not have the hard plastic spout, one similar to the one at this link. This type of cup has a couple benefits. One, it does not have a plastic spout that can cause issues with the teeth, and second it also trains the child how to drink from a cup normally.

It is wise to start teaching children early on the proper care of their teeth. Just as we emphasize the importance of living healthy, it is also important to emphasize good oral health care and to develop those habits from an early age. The earlier in life that habits are formed the easier and more likley a child is to stick with that habit.

Obviously there are more topics that can be covered in a discussion like this one. A great resource for information is the AAPD, which is is American Academy of Pediatric Dentists. A list of questions and answers to common dental questions can be found here.



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