As a Pediatric Dentist, Orthodontist and Mom of three children, I am passionate about educating families about the importance of maintaining a healthy, straight, beautiful smile. New parents often ask me, “When should my child first see a dentist?” According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, every child should visit a dentist by their first birthday. This first visit is important to establish a dental home for the child early — a place where a patient can go for familiar, comfortable and compassionate dental care, especially in the case of a dental emergency. At Commerce Park Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we offer a complimentary first visit to all children under two years of age.
Here are some basic guidelines when caring for little teeth:
- Aim for 2mins. 2x a day. www.2min2x.org
- A wet toothbrush does the job for infants. At two years old, use a training (non-fluoride containing) toothpaste. Only use fluoride toothpaste once the child has learned to spit out and not swallow it.
- Floss 1x a day as soon as two teeth touch each other. Regular floss or plastic floss holders for kids work great.
- A young child’s dexterity is not fully developed therefore it is always best for a caregiver to brush the child’s teeth until the child is at least seven years old.
I understand that brushing for children at any age can be a challenge. As a parent, making sure that your child is brushing well and 2x a day can be a struggle. Sometimes it takes music, rewards, change of scenery or an app with games to make it more fun for kids and parents alike.
- Use Rewards. Let kids choose their own toothbrush (within reason) and consider a toothbrushing calendar to track their progress which leads to a reward such as going to a movie or picking out a new toy. We offer a helpful toothbrushing calendar at our office that children can redeem for a fun prize.
- Dance party in the bathroom! Play your child’s favorite song while brushing their teeth for 2 minutes or check out these toothbrushing tunes offered by the American Dental Association. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/kids-brushing-playlist
- Try to limit snacking, especially the sticky & sugary snacks / drinks that linger on the teeth. Saliva helps to wash away the acid between meals, but if your child is always eating, there may not be time for this acid to get washed away.
- Try different flavors of toothpaste. Change up your child’s brushing routine with a different flavor of toothpaste each week like vanilla, strawberry or even chocolate.
- Toothbrushing Apps (on your smartphone) are a great tool to engage your child. Many apps offer games to encourage longer brushing, rewards for consistent brushing, even alerting parents when a child is not brushing.
The goal is to engage your child to keep brushing & flossing fun. Talk to your child about the importance of maintaining good oral care at home. Check out our website (www.commerceparkdental.com) or call our office if you have any questions. We are happy to be a resource for families in the community.
BIO: Mary Ritter, DMD is Pediatric Dentist and Orthodontist at Commerce Park Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics. She and her husband Tim have three children and a dog named Teddy. When she is not at work, you can find her reading or with her family. They have fun together no matter what they are doing; they love biking, walking the dog, and just being together.