By Dr. Andy Johnson at Southpark Pediatric Dentistry
February is Dental Health Month, a good time to review your dental health routine with your child. I often tell parents there are two areas of focus for maintaining healthy teeth, proper diet and proper hygiene.
It starts with a healthy diet – A well balanced diet incorporating plenty of dairy, fruits and vegetables are essential for healthy teeth and gums. Please be cautious of raisins and chewy/gummy fruit snacks. Although made with fruit or fruit juices, these snacks stick to your child’s teeth. These sugars will sit on their teeth and create an opportunity for decay if not brushed away quickly. Cheese is an excellent choice for a healthy snack. In recent studies cheese has been proven to be the best snack for healthy teeth. I know my kids enjoy cut up apples topped with a slice of cheese. Stick to water and milk, the best for growing children. Juice should be limited as it is another major source of sugar.
Keep up a consistent routine – Keep your child’s mouth healthy. It is important to watch over their brushing skills until at least 8 years old. They need to make sure they are covering all surfaces and brushing for enough time and to brush at least twice a day. I tell my children to hum the “Happy Birthday” song two times to be sure they are brushing long enough. Make sure tooth brushes are replaced frequently (roughly every 3-4 months). Flossing, yes it is important at a young age! As long as two teeth are touching, flossing should start. Similar to adults, children should visit the dentist every six months for a check-up, cleaning, and fluoride. The need for Xrays varies for each child based on which teeth are present and the child’s risk profile for getting cavities.
When should my child have their first dental visit?
I am often asked when a child should come in for their first dental check-up. The guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) are that the first dental visit should be no later than the child’s 1st birthday. Typically the first tooth appears between ages six to twelve months. It is important to establish a regular dental exam routine early. This will help promote a lifetime of healthy teeth for your child. An early visit can detect issues prior to becoming major problems.
A Special Smarty Offer!
For our new Smarty Pants families, we would like to provide a complimentary age one visit. This will give you an opportunity to have your child visit our office, have a head and neck examination, an evaluation of the health of the teeth, gums and your child’s bite. This is a great opportunity to further discuss diet, hygiene and answer any of your questions.