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How to Help Care for Your Child’s Teeth
Dental hygiene for your child begins at day one. Although teeth might not be visible to the eye, they are hidden under the gums waiting to sprout up as they grow. Therefore, it is important to maintain your child’s oral health, from the start of their first baby teeth till they are able and responsible to care for their own teeth. There are steps you can take to ensure that your child has a bright and healthy smile, reducing their chance for future cavities and gum disease.
1. Before your child has teeth growing in, it is beneficial to gently wipe down the gums with a clean washcloth. This helps keep the area clean, healthy, and stimulated, aiding in the growth of their teeth. In addition, managing bottle feeding can directly impact the health of your child’s teeth. Bottles should be removed from the child’s mouth once they are finished with their drinking and not be placed into the crib with them when they go to sleep.
2. At about six months old, their first set of teeth begin to breach the gums. These are called the primary or baby teeth. At this stage, it is important to brush teeth gently with a soft bristled toothbrush and water at least twice daily. They should make their first visit to a dentist before their first birthday.
3. At around age three, all the teeth have grown in, creating the start to their first set ready for smiling! A small amount of toothpaste with fluoride can be introduced into their routine, typically with a flavor enjoyed by small children, such as bubblegum or berry. It is important that the child spits out the toothpaste, so that they do not ingest the fluoride as this can be harmful to their health. Regular dental appointments should be made, monitoring the growth of your child’s teeth.
4. As soon as teeth begin to touch, assist your child in flossing their teeth so that they can get the areas of their teeth that the toothbrush cannot reach. This will reduce the incidence of plaque, gum disease, and cavities that can develop over time.
5. At age six, teeth will begin to fall out. This is a new and exciting time for your child, as their permanent or adult teeth have finally begun to grow in! Make sure that brushing at least twice daily and flossing once daily is still included in their dental routine. Assist your child in reaching their molars, which are harder to reach as the mouth and teeth grow.
6. Once your child is about 13 years old, all of their permanent teeth have grown in. It is vital to maintain their health, as they are the set they have for life! Your child should be visiting the dentist every six months, brushing and flossing consistently, and be made aware of the importance of dental hygiene. At this point, there may be braces in the near future!
Make sure to help your growing child maintain their dental health, setting an example for many more years to come. This will ensure that your child has a bright, white, and healthy smile! If you have any questions or want to make an appointment for your child, please call (202) 733-6557, or e-mail our office and we’d be happy to assist you.
The mouth can be a very useful tool to help us evaluate our health. Most people are not aware that our teeth can provide us with evidence of other problems occurring in our bodies. Hopefully your dentist only sees you for your routine cleaning and examination. Therefore, a large part of the responsibility falls on ourselves to monitor the changes we notice in our oral condition and appearance, as it allows us to keep track of our overall health.
Although not all oral symptoms suggest another health problem, it is important to be aware of them and try to figure out the cause. Rather than avoid the issue and let it grow into something more painful and costly, you can nip it in the bud and keep your well-being (and teeth) shining! To help you get started, we will list some problems to keep an eye on and potentially get checked out.
Almost everyone experiences an instance of less than favorable breath. For the most part, this is due to the foods we consume, such as garlic and onions, which can be cured with a simple mint, brushing your teeth/tongue, flossing, or some mouthwash. However, bad breath can be a sign of advanced gum disease, which can ruin a perfectly good set of teeth. In this case, it is important to talk to your dentist so that they can examine the situation and help give you a bigger picture.
If you notice that you have a sour taste in your mouth, especially around the times that you eat, there is a chance that you could suffer from acid reflux. This condition normally produces bad breath, chest pain, and a sore or raspy throat. Not only is this detrimental to your dental health, as the acid can lead to tooth decay, it can also lead to stomach ulcers and esophageal inflammation. If you believe that you suffer from this condition, make an appointment to see a specialist who can help you manage the causes and effects.
As enamel erodes, the protective surface layer on your teeth breaks down. This is typically due to the consumption of citrus, coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, and sodas, which all contain the acid that eats away at the enamel. In order to alleviate the effects of these products, it can be beneficial to use a straw, which mostly directs the beverage past your teeth. As mentioned above, acid reflux can also lead to the erosion of enamel, which would require doctor recommendations in order to treat the cause. Lastly, bulimia can severely destroy the enamel of the teeth, as the acid in our stomachs is constantly in contact with our teeth.
For the most part, mouth sores are a common occurrence, appearing on the crease of the mouth or tongue. There is a small chance that these sores can be a predictor of oral cancer. In this instance, they are typically coupled with a bad taste in the mouth and pain while chewing and swallowing. Since most of these sores are harmless, there is not much to fret about. However, if they last for more than two weeks at time, make sure to follow-up with your dentist so that they can examine you and let you know the potential cause.
Swollen and Sore Gums
If you notice that your gums are swollen, sore, and red, you should call your dentist in order to see whether you have gum disease. An indicator of unhealthy gums would be if they appear smooth and shiny (rather than slightly pebbled) close to the tooth line when dried. In this case, gums are likely to bleed and cause pain during brushing and flossing. In order to alleviate the pain, brush the area gently but thoroughly and make sure to take the time to floss between the teeth.
Now that you have the information, keep an eye out on the changes you notice over time. Seek a doctor or dentist if you believe that you suffer from any of the above conditions. Your mouth and teeth are trying to speak to you, don’t ignore them!