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Dental Education for Parents: Your Guide to Healthy Smiles

by Youth Dental

Dental Education for Parents: Your Guide to Healthy Smiles

Reviewed By Dr. Jodi Kuhn

Reading time: 6 minutes

Parents, you play a vital role in shaping your child’s oral health. Understanding proper oral health care and promoting good oral hygiene habits in your kids from an early age can make a big difference in the long term.

This guide will provide you with tips and information on how to maintain your child’s oral health, the importance of regular checkups, common oral health issues in children and how to prevent them.

Tooth Decay and Cavities

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is the process that leads to cavities. It occurs when the natural bacteria in your mouth feed on sugary foods and produce acids that attack tooth enamel. Over time, these acids can create holes, or cavities, in the teeth. It is important to identify cavities early to prevent further decay and tooth loss.

How to Identify a Cavity

Common signs that your child may have a cavity include:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
  • Visible holes or pits in the teeth
  • Tooth pain or discomfort
  • Dark or white stains on the surface of the teeth

Establish Good Dental Hygiene Habits

Developing good oral hygiene habits early on can prevent many oral health issues. Did you know that you should wash your babies gums before their first tooth appears🦷? 

This helps to prevent bacteria from building up in the mouth. Once teeth start appearing, you should brush them every day with a baby toothbrush and smear of fluoride-free toothpaste. For information on what type of toothpaste to use, read Choosing The Right Toothpaste For Your Child. 

Daily Oral Health Routines

If you start these habits early on, your child will naturally incorporate them into their daily routine as they grow older. Make brushing and flossing fun by using flavored toothpaste, colorful toothbrushes, and singing a song while brushing.

  1. Brushing: If your child is young, brush their teeth for them until they have enough dexterity to do it themselves. Let them watch you brush and floss so that they understand that it’s an important part of your day too. 

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush in circular motions. For children under three, use a smear of fluoride-free toothpaste or hydroxyapatite toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. 

For older children, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient. Children can use fluoride toothpaste when they are able to spit it out. Despite what many think, fluoride is not harmful when used correctly, and is essential for preventing tooth decay. To learn more about fluoride, read Fluoride: A Must For Children’s Dental Health. 

  1. Flossing: This can be tricky for kids, so give them options. Teach them how to use string floss, but also have kids flossers available or even a Water Pik. It doesn’t matter what method they use, as long as they are doing it! 

Flossing is super important because it removes the plaque and debris between teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. If plaque isn’t removed, it turns into tartar and then can cause cavities or gum disease (yes, kids can get gum disease!) For a guide on flossing, read Teach Kids The Right Way to Floss: A Guide for Parents

Healthy Diet and Snacks

What your child eats and drinks is just as important as their oral hygiene routine.  Try to limit foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, as these can contribute to tooth decay. Instead, encourage your child to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and calcium-rich foods like dairy products.

Snacking throughout the day can also contribute to tooth decay. If your child needs a snack between meals, opt for healthy options such as cheese, nuts, or crunchy vegetables like carrots or celery.

Avoid giving your child sugary drinks like juice or soda on a regular basis. These beverages contain high levels of sugar which can quickly lead to tooth decay. Encourage them to drink water instead, which not only hydrates but also helps rinse away food particles and bacteria from the mouth.

Check out this blog for tips on how to get them to drink more water: 5 Tips To Get Your Child To Drink More Water:  Boost Dental Health, The Fun Way!

There is nothing wrong with eating a sugary treat now and then; what’s important is that the sugar from those treats doesn’t sit on their teeth. If your child has a treat, make sure they rinse with water after eating or, better yet, brush their teeth.

It might seem like a huge effort to get your kids to do these things, but it will save you time and money in the long run. More importantly, it will save your kids from a lot of pain and discomfort.

Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings

We understand that a visit to the dentist can be stressful for you and your child. If your child has a fear of the dentist, or if you are afraid of the dentist, this can lead to total avoidance which is bad for you and your child.

At Denver Youth Dentistry, we make every effort to make a visit to our office a positive experience for both you and your child. Our staff are trained to work with children and help them feel comfortable and at ease during their visit.

Regular visits to the dentist are important for many reasons, which is why we really encourage parents to make it a priority. Some of the benefits of regular checkups and cleanings include:

  • Early detection of cavities and other oral health issues
  • Education on proper oral hygiene techniques for your child’s specific needs
  • Removal of plaque and tartar build-up, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated
  • Monitoring of the growth and development of your child’s teeth

Many adults go their whole lives without visiting the dentist because of dental fear and anxiety 😱!  We want to break that cycle and help your child develop a positive attitude towards dental care. A healthy smile contributes to a healthy body and overall well-being.

💡Did you know?

We accept Medicaid and a wide range of insurances. We don’t want any child to miss out on quality dental care because of financial limitations. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child and start them on the path to a lifetime of good oral health.

Common Oral Health Issues in Children and How to Prevent Them

  • Tooth Decay: This is the most common oral health issue in children and can be easily prevented by practicing good oral hygiene habits, limiting sugary foods and drinks, and visiting the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
  • Gum Disease: While this may seem like an adult problem, children can also develop gum disease. It is important to encourage proper brushing and flossing techniques from a young age to prevent plaque build-up which can lead to gum disease.
  • Malocclusion: This refers to misaligned teeth or an incorrect bite. It can cause issues with chewing, speech development, and self-esteem. If detected early on, malocclusion can be corrected through orthodontic treatment. Regular dental checkups can help catch and address this issue.
  • Thumb Sucking: This habit is common in young children and can lead to misalignment of teeth or speech issues if it continues for too long. Encourage your child to stop sucking their thumb by offering positive reinforcement and finding other ways to soothe them.
  • Tooth Trauma: Children are prone to accidents, so it’s important to protect their teeth while playing sports or participating in any activities that could potentially cause tooth trauma. Wearing a mouth guard can prevent chipped, broken, or knocked out teeth. To learn how to deal with a dental emergency, read 5 Emergency Dental Care Tips For Your Child.

Denver Youth Dentistry – Your Kids Dentist in Denver

We are committed to providing quality dental care for children in a friendly and comfortable environment. Our kid-focused approach helps children develop healthy oral habits that will last a lifetime. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and give your child the gift of a healthy smile!

We have locations in Denver, Aurora, Thornton and Hampden. To book an appointment at one of these locations, call (303) 953-8801 or complete the online inquiry form. If you are searching for a kids dentist in Denver, trust the experts at Denver Youth Dentistry.Check out our blog for more helpful tips on children’s oral health and dental care.

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