A complete dental exam is performed to assess the current state of your teeth and gums so appropriate treatments can be performed. The examination goes beyond the standard teeth cleaning and visual examination that takes place during biannual trips to the dentist.When you go in for a complete dental exam, the dentist evaluates your oral…
How Soon Should My Child Begin Routine Dental Care?
Typically, baby teeth are completely replaced by their permanent counterparts around age 12. However, routine dental care is still vital for younger children to help prevent decay, gum disease, and complications with permanent teeth down the road. As soon as teething begins, it is time to prioritize a child's oral health.
Routine dental care for young children
Children need a complete routine to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Both home care and professional care should begin at a young age.
Parents should start brushing a child's teeth as soon as the first baby tooth emerges. If the child is very young, patients may find more success with using a silicone finger brush or even a soft washcloth at first. However, kids should transition to a small, soft-bristled brush as soon as possible. Fluoride toothpaste is important for cavity prevention but young children should not use it until they can consistently brush without swallowing. Until then, a fluoride-free option should be used in small amounts.
Just like adults, children should brush at least twice a day: once after breakfast and again before bedtime. Two minutes is the recommended duration, and setting a timer or using a tooth-brushing app can help encourage children to brush for the right amount of time. A child may desire total independence while brushing as time goes by. However, parents should still supervise and assist until the child is around 7 years of age to ensure a thorough clean.
Once children have two or more teeth that touch, it is time to start flossing. Using children's flossers can be helpful with this step, as many feature bright colors and tasty flavors. Parents can also look for options that offer a fluoride coating for an extra layer of protection between teeth. While flossing after each tooth-brushing session is recommended, once a day before bed is still sufficient for a healthy mouth.
Visiting the dentist is one of the most important pieces of routine dental care for children. School-aged children should all have regular dental visits to help ensure better cavity prevention and early detection of potential oral health issues. It also helps build familiarity with the office and staff so young patients are more at ease when professional dental care becomes lengthier and more involved.
In addition to cleanings and a basic examination, parents can also expect additional treatments as the child grows, including:
- Fluoride treatments
- Sealants for cavity prevention
These options may vary based on overall oral health and physical development. Dentists can also offer guidance on dietary or lifestyle changes and breaking bad habits, such as finger- or thumb-sucking, to help correct or prevent issues with tooth alignment, bite patterns, and jaw development.
Routine dental care for children should begin at a young age. When parents teach kids to build a good oral hygiene routine with proper home care and professional cleanings, children can build healthy oral care habits to last a lifetime.
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