little girl brushing her teeth

It’s never too early to start teaching your child about proper dental care. Photo: American Ratings Corporation @2020

Over the past few months, we’ve published a number of blogs concerning children’s health care—or, to be more specific, children’s dental and vision care. These posts have proven popular enough to warrant follow-up. So, just in time for summer, we’re scouting out answers to some of your frequently asked questions about children’s dental and vision care. This week: children’s dental FAQs.

When should I bring my child to his or her first dental exam?
The American Dental Association recommends bringing your child for its first exam by age 1 at the latest.

What is bottle rot and how do I prevent it?
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, also known as Early Childhood Caries, is tooth decay in infants that’s commonly caused by prolonged exposure to sugary drinks (though milk residue can also cause decay). Parents can help prevent bottle rot by not putting a baby to bed with a bottle and not giving infants sugary drinks in any form.

How often should my child see a dentist?
Children should visit the dentist once every six months for a routine check-up and cleaning. “That’s about the amount of time that plaque or tartar can start to build up on teeth,” says Dr. Josh Hammer of Landeros & Hammer Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, noting also that a routine checkup can prevent bigger problems later.

How many times a day should a child brush their teeth?
Dr. Hammer recommends that children (and adults) brush twice a day: two minutes in the morning and two minutes before bed. Children should also floss once a day in the evening to help remove any food left over from the days’ meals.

When should children start flossing?
A child should start flossing when they have two teeth that touch – typically between the ages of 2 and 3. Parents should floss for children when they’re younger, as children lack the motor dexterity needed to properly do it themselves. Children can usually begin flossing for themselves (with guidance) at around 8 years old.

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits bad for a child’s teeth?
“They can be if they last too long,” says Dr. Hammer. “Thumb sucking in the age range of 1 to 3 usually isn’t a problem. Ideally, the habit is cured by the time the child turns 4.” After children reach 4 or 5, sucking can cause skeletal changes that result in bowing between the front and back teeth.

What are dental sealants and why should I use them?
Dental sealants cover the tops of molars and keep food particles out of the pits that often don’t get cleaned with toothbrush and floss alone. Sealants have become standard in dentistry because they’re a simple way to prevent major issues. While some dentists recommend sealants across the board, Dr. Hammer recommends sealants on a case-by-case basis, noting that they’re particularly helpful for patients with deep molar pits.

2 Responses

  1. Sarah Smith says:

    I want to take good care of my children’s teeth. Thanks for the advice about how you should take your child to the dentist every six months. It would also be smart to get a dentist that has benefits for children.

  2. Drew says:

    Great advice for your childs dental care. It’s never too early to get them used to the doctor so these are good tips.

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