Infants and Children
IMportance of Brushing to prevent Gum DIsease
A child’s first teeth begin to erupt by 6 months of age. As soon as this occurs, your child’s teeth are vulnerable to tooth decay. At this young age, your baby is likely being bottle or breast fed several times a day. Although your baby’s teeth seem clean today, all parents should be aware that by age 2 to 3, up to 20% of children have severe dental decay! You should keep in mind that dental decay is largely preventable, and good oral hygiene practice started early on can make all the difference in your child’s oral health.
Before eruption of any teeth, you should use a soft wet cloth to thoroughly wipe your baby’s gums after each feeding. Once the first primary teeth erupt, you should switch to a soft bristle toothbrush and brush the teeth after feedings. A wet cloth may still be used for the gums at this time.
Often when children reach age 3, they gain independence and want to do everything by themselves! Of course this includes brushing. Although we encourage independence, parents should be aware that effective oral hygiene requires proper technique. As a general rule, children are not expected to acquire the adequate skills needed to brush their own teeth until about age 6. Therefore, it is strongly suggested that parents brush the teeth of any child under the age of 6 regardless of enthusiasm. Together with the pediatric dentist, you can determine when it is safe to allow your child to take oral care into his/her own hands!
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Importance of Flossing to prevent Gum Disease
There is no child too young to need flossing. The amount of space between teeth determines whether or not it is beneficial to floss your child’s teeth. Fortunately, most children have large gaps between their baby teeth. In some cases, however, even the baby teeth grow very close to one another. When your pediatric dentist observes that there isn’t enough space to adequately clean between teeth by tooth brushing alone, he will recommend flossing as an additional measure to maintain good oral health for your child. As with brushing, flossing is very technique sensitive. Therefore, regardless of your child’s level of enthusiasm, it is important for parents to floss and/or supervise the flossing until well after the age of 6. For those of you who have flossed before, you can appreciate how flossing can sometimes be uncomfortable.