Many people are unaware of the important role early dental care plays in children’s overall health. The ADA recommends parents take action early to ensure the health of their children’s teeth because attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining good oral health throughout life. The following are some of their suggestions:
Maintain regular dental visits.
Dr. Baker recommends regular dental check-ups once your child is three-years-old. Preventive care such as cleanings and fluoride treatment provide your child with “smile insurance.” Routine dental exams uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal and restorations may be small. When necessary, X-rays are taken to see how the teeth are developing and to spot hidden decay.
Prevent early childhood caries (baby bottle tooth decay)
Baby bottle tooth decay can destroy your child’s teeth. It occurs when a child is frequently exposed to sugary liquids such as milk, including breast milk, fruit juice and other sweet liquids. The ADA recommends clearing your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth. After every feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. Additionally, the organization says not to give babies bottle at nap or bed time, to encourage children drink from a cup by their first birthday and to discourage frequent use of a training cup.
Use mouth protectors.
Any child involved in a recreational activity, such as soccer, hockey, football, roller blading, riding a scooter and even bicycling should wear a mouth protector. There are “stock” mouth protectors available in stores and a better-fitting variety, which are custom fitted by your dentist.
Manage dental emergencies.
Knowing how to handle your child’s dental emergency can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth. The ADA recommends the following tips on what to do for your child in case of the following:
- Knocked-Out tooth – Hold the tooth by the crown and rinse off the root of the tooth in water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket. If that isn’t possible, put the tooth in a cup of milk and get to the dentist as quickly as possible. Remember to take the tooth with you!
- Toothache – Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss or an interdental cleaner to ensure that there is no food or other debris caught between the teeth. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. If the pain persists, contact your dentist.
- Bitten lip or tongue – Clean the area gently with a cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.