Visiting the pediatric dentist is essential for your child's healthy mouth. That said, keeping up on appointments isn't enough on its own when it comes to your little one's dental health. What do you (and your child) need to do at home to help her smile?
- Keep a clean mouth. Even if your child doesn't have teeth (or all of her teeth), you still need to clean her mouth daily. The American Dental Association recommends cleaning your baby's gums with gauze or a washcloth.
- Supervise brushing. Don't trust that your preschooler is brushing her teeth in the right way or at every opportunity necessary. Unless the pediatric dentist says otherwise, help your young child to brush her teeth twice a day. Use a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste, reminding your child not swallow as she brushes.
- Choose a fluoride toothpaste. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that using a fluoride toothpaste can protect your child's teeth from decay.
- Don't doze with juice. Even though they seem healthy, most fruit juices contain high amounts of sugar. Letting your child nap with a bottle or sippy cup of juice not only poses a choking hazard, but also constantly bathes her mouth in cavity-causing sweets.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Along with cutting down on sugar-packed juices, limited treats such as candy and cookies plays a part in your child's healthy mouth, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics. Avoid sticky sweets (such as hard candies or toffee) that stay stuck to your child's teeth, raising the risk of developing cavities.
- Floss. By the time that your child is 10 or 11, she's able to floss on her own, according to the ADA. Before this age, you can help your child to floss. Flossing is a key part of any dental routine, helping you and your child to remove built-up plaque in between the teeth.
- Ask about mouthwash. Not every pediatric dentist will recommend a mouthwash. But, in some cases, a fluoride or anti-bacterial wash may help. Talk to the dentist before giving your child any type of mouthwash – even those that say they're specifically made for kids.
- Drink some water. Not only does tap water contain fluoride, but it can quickly and easily rinse off your tot's teeth after a meal of baby food or puree. This doesn't mean that you need to flood your baby with an aqua after-meal. A few sips will do.
- Stay away from soda. There's no nutritional value in it and the high sugar content can contribute to cavities.
- Call a pro. If something doesn't seem right, your child's mouth is in pain, or she injures a tooth, call the pediatric dentist. There's no substitute for a professional opinion.
While regular dental check-ups are key for every child, you also need to keep your little one's teeth healthy at home. From evaluating her diet to brushing, homecare is a must-do that you need to pay careful attention to!