The month of February is all about sharing love — including love for your teeth! In honor of February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, we asked the experts at Dental Depot to share their answers to common parent questions about kids’ dental care.
When should my child have their first dentist appointment?
The American Dental Association recommends parents bring babies to the dentist soon after their first tooth breaks through the gums. This gives the dentist a chance to check for decay, provide advice for preventing future decay (including sealants) and show you how to care for your child’s teeth. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions in kids, affecting 20 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 11.
When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
As soon as your child’s first tooth breaks through the gums, begin brushing their teeth with a baby toothbrush or a warm washcloth. Brushing your baby’s teeth twice a day will prevent cavities and ensure your baby has the healthiest smile. Use of a pea-sized amount of children’s toothpaste is recommended for children from 2 to 6 years of age.
What kind of products should I use?
For babies and kids alike, stick to brushes with soft bristles. Your child’s toothbrush should be changed every three months.
Does my child need dental sealants?
Dental sealants can prevent 80 percent of cavities from happening! They are applied as a thin coating over the deep pits and grooves of the molars, typically around ages 6 and 12, preventing plaque and bacteria from building up in hard-to-reach places.
Each tooth is cleaned and dried to keep bacteria from getting trapped. Then, an etching solution is applied to the chewing surface of the tooth and the sealant is brushed onto the tooth and cured. The process is quick and painless with no numbing required. Because sealants are preventative services, most insurances – including Medicaid – cover sealants at 100 percent up to ages 14 to 16.
7 Tips for Reluctant Brushers
Does your child hate brushing their teeth? Check out these 7 tips from Dental Depot to make brushing easier on them (and you!).
- Consider why — and ask them what they don’t like about brushing during a calm moment. Maybe their current toothbrush hurts their mouth or they don’t like the taste of their toothpaste. Perhaps they are sensitive to new textures or they just don’t like to stand still. Understanding why brushing is bothersome can increase empathy and help you choose the best ways to encourage them.
- Incorporate movement. Let them squeeze a fidget ball, pet their favorite stuffed animal or march in place or down the hall and back while brushing.
- Give choices. Have a few toothbrushes for your child to choose from and let them pick which toothbrush to use. This helps them feel more in control of the situation.
- Try a reward system. Maybe your child receives a note from the tooth fairy, a sticker or another reward every time they brush. Use a sticker chart; once your child has accumulated a certain number, they get a bigger reward, such as a trip to the park.
- Set a timer or sing a song to get them to work at it longer.
- Make up a fun story, for instance, about getting the “sugar monsters” off their teeth. “Oops, the sugar monster just ran across your tongue, let’s get it!”
- Make it fun! Educate your child about brushing their teeth with fun books and videos. For example, Dental Depot’s Smiley O’Riley program educates kids about good oral hygiene habits. This educational, entertaining video presentation for ages PreK through 5th grade features Smiley O’Riley and his friends the Sugar Free Allstars and is perfect for teachers and parents alike. Watch here: bit.ly/SmileyORiley.
With a bit of modification and creativity, you and your children might actually look forward to the teeth-brushing routine! Find more information at dentaldepot.net.
About Dental Depot
Dental Depot’s newest metro location in the Deer Creek area at Portland Avenue and 164th Street offers comprehensive dental care for the entire family, including full-service general dentistry, dental hygiene and state-of-the-art orthodontics. Flexible appointment times are available Monday through Saturday, with same-day emergency appointments available, too. SoonerCare, most major insurances and cash pay are all accepted. Dental Depot is an Oklahoma-based company providing convenient, affordable and quality dental care, as well as support of various metro nonprofit organizations, for more than 40 years. Visit dentaldepot.net for more information and to make an appointment.