For first time parents of young children, trying to handle the increasing demands of parenthood while learning the ins and outs of the job can feel overwhelming at first. Mistakes happen along the way, but parents eventually learn from past decisions as they navigate one challenge after the next.
While most proceed overly cautiously when it comes to their child’s well being, one area of development that often gets overlooked is a child’s oral health. Because a child develops baby teeth prior to developing his or her permanent teeth, it’s easy for parents to assume that a child’s oral health doesn’t become a serious issue until he or she gets a little older. However, in order for a child to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, parents much attempt to avoid mistakes early that could jeopardize their child’s oral health.
To help you protect your child’s oral health, here are three common mistakes that parents make regarding their kids oral care.
Most children start to develop baby teeth between the ages of six to 10 months, and have completely developed their set of primary teeth between the ages of 25 to 33 months. Because a child slowly develops her primary teeth over the first three years of life, many parents may feel tempted to wait before scheduling their child’s first dental appointment until the majority of her teeth have formed. However, parents run a risk of allowing undiscovered decay to permanently damage the health of their child’s teeth by waiting too long to visit the dentist.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that parents schedule their child’s initial visit with a dentist soon after his first tooth appears or by the child’s first birthday, whichever comes first. Scheduling early visits with a dentist offers your child two primary benefits. First, appointments allow the dentist to determine if your child’s teeth are developing normally and they provide an opportunity to spot early signs of tooth decay before the problem causes any permanent damage.
Additionally, providing your child an opportunity to visit the dentist at a young age can also help to reduce the likelihood of her developing dental anxiety later on. Your child will have a much less traumatic time at the dentist’s office if visits remain short and painless than discovering he has a cavity that needs filling during a first dental appointment because decay wasn’t spotted early.
It’s not uncommon for parents to lay a fussy baby down to sleep while still feeding on a bottle of formula, milk, or just drinking some juice. Unfortunately, while this might help a child relax and fall asleep, laying a child down with a bottle can also present a serious risk for tooth decay.
When your child falls asleep with a bottle still in his mouth, the liquid begins to pool around the base of his teeth. Plaque, a prominent mouth bacteria, feeds of the sugars these liquids contain to produce acids that slowly eat away at the enamel on your child’s teeth, which can eventually lead to the development of a condition known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.
To prevent this from occurring, parents should never lay their child down with a bottle that contains anything other than water. Parents also need to wipe their child’s teeth and gums clean using a soft cloth following each meal. Once a child starts to develop multiple teeth, parent should begin gently brushing their child teeth with a child-sized toothbrush. Because fluoride consumption can be dangerous in young children, parents shouldn’t start using toothpaste until their child has the ability to not inadvertently shallow during brushing.
Letting Their Child Brush
Young children simply don’t possess the dexterity or motor control needed to properly brush their own teeth until sometime between the ages of six to eight. Until a child has the physical ability and mental concentration to correctly brush their teeth, parents need to continue handling their child’s oral hygiene care in order to prevent the development of decay. As a general rule of thumb, most children become old enough to brush their own teeth once they possess the ability to tie their own shoes.