What Should You Know About Your Child’s Oral Health?
When should you take your child to the dentist? How can you protect against kids' cavities? WebMD asked an expert.
Present it as something fun and exciting, and as a sign that he is growing
up. Tell your child that we will “count,” “brush,” and “take pictures” of
his/her teeth. By explaining the exam and the cleaning in these terms, your
child will better understand the situation. Avoid negative words such as
“hurt,” “drill,” “pull,” and “shot.” Don’t tell your child, “The dentist won’t
hurt you” -- this may never have entered his mind in the first place! Reassure
him that the dentist and staff will be gentle and friendly.
What should my child eat and drink to protect his teeth?
This is one of those questions parents don’t ask me, but I wish they would!
First, don’t give your child juice all the time, especially the juice boxes.
Most of them are not nutritious. If your child must have juice, follow the
1-2-3 rule: only one cup of juice a day, along with two glasses of milk and
three glasses of water. The best snacks for a child are those that don’t come
in a plastic package: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Don’t peel your child’s apples and other fruit --the edible peels are where
most of the nutrients come from, and they help to scrub the teeth.
When is my child ready for “real” toothpaste?
As soon as they’re old enough to spit -- usually around age three. Once
they’re in enough control to be potty trained, they have enough control to spit
out fluoridated toothpaste. “Children’s” toothpastes are like training wheels
-- they can’t do much harm. But they also aren’t all that useful. Make sure
your child brushes his teeth after breakfast, not before, so they start the day
with a clean mouth. And after brushing teeth at night, nothing else to eat or
drink except water.
When do I need to wean my child from thumb sucking or using a
Prolonged pacifier or thumb sucking can deform a child’s upper dental arch
and cause things like crossbite and protruding teeth. Children should be weaned
from the habit by no later than 2 ½ or 3 years old. At that point, if any
damage has been done to their bite by the sucking, we can usually undo it
without too much difficulty. But if they get much past three and aren’t
stopping, braces will have to fix it at some point later on.