February is National Children’s Dental Health Month! In honor of the occasion, we sat down with Dr. Tasha Batts from our Levelland practice to answer some questions around oral health in children.
At what age should children begin seeing a dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends having the first dental examination when the first tooth erupts and no later than 12 months of age. Establishing a dental home no later than 12 months of age allows dietary and nutrition counseling to begin early. This helps parents develop proper oral health habits early in their child’s life, rather than trying to change unhealthy habits later.
Does it really matter how children treat their baby teeth since they will eventually lose them anyway?
Absolutely! Having cavities with the baby teeth is predictive of cavities in the permanent teeth.
What is the best way to keep my child’s mouth clean before teeth come in?
After feeding, use a clean washcloth to wipe the baby’s gums and tongue. Also, limit sharing utensils or cleaning pacifiers with your mouth to avoid spreading cavity-causing bacteria.
Are thumb-sucking and pacifier habits harmful to teeth?
Yes, it is recommended to stop non-nutritive habits by the age of three. Oral habits can cause significant and expensive changes to a child’s bite and facial development, leading to early orthodontic treatment.
What is the biggest cause of cavities in children?
A combination of factors cause cavities, including diet, fluoride exposure and the child’s susceptibility. We have the biggest control over our diets and sugar consumption through sugary drinks (anything other than water) and snacking.
How can I help my child avoid cavities?
One option is to limit sugary drinks to only meal time. Once the meal is done, so is the drink.
How do I know which kind of toothpaste to give my child? Is it safe to use one that has fluoride?
Over the counter fluoridated toothpaste is recommended once the first tooth erupts. Children younger than 2 should brush under adult supervision with a rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste, twice a day. Children 2 years of age and older should brush under adult supervision with a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste, twice a day.
When should children begin brushing their own teeth?
Children should begin brushing their own teeth when they are able to tie their own shoes, typically around 9 years of age. Before that, parents/caretakers should be brushing for them.
What should I do if my child has a toothache?
Call the dentist office for a visit to determine the cause of pain. Postponed treatment can result in worsened problems that may lead to the need for more extensive care.
If you could only provide one piece of advice for parents when it comes to their children’s teeth, what would it be?
Lead your children by example by showing the importance of oral health care and its relation to total health care.
Learn more about Dr. Tasha Batts by clicking here.