A parent juggles a lot, and not just at a child’s birthday party. Parents have to keep the family ship running smoothly. When it comes to scheduling regular dental visits, your tiny toddler certainly won’t be keeping track.
The sooner, the better
You don’t need to run to your dentist before your baby’s first tooth has erupted, but once there are a few teeth in there, it’s time to think about regular dental visits. Many dental practices encourage starting toddlers down the path to dental care as early as possible as this will set the child up for a long life of excellent teeth.
Sippy cups and bottles
Keeping your kid hydrated is one thing, but letting her constantly suck on a sippy cup or bottle filled with juice or milk is another. If your kid is constantly sucking down a sugary drink, her mouth will bear the consequences later on.
Avoid letting your child have a bottle or sippy cup when in her crib or big-kid bed as this allows the sugar from these drinks to coat her teeth. If your kid must have a bottle or sippy cup to fall asleep, consider filling it with water to avoid future tooth decay.
As an infant and into toddlerhood, it’s natural for your child to wake in the night to feed. However, when he’s a toddler, consider skipping that midnight feeding if at all possible. Much like the bottle, a midnight feeding allows the sugars in the milk to coat his teeth, setting the stage for major tooth decay.
Getting a dental hygiene routine set early is a wonderful idea, but be aware of what your child is doing with the toothpaste. Fluoride is an excellent tooth-strengthener and, if your community doesn’t add fluoride to the water, dentists recommend fluoride treatments for kids as young as six months.
There is too much of a good thing and too much fluoride can cause discoloration on your kid’s teeth. Of course you want your kid brushing her teeth, just opt for toothpaste without fluoride until your kid gets a handle on not swallowing it. (To give the kids a break, it does taste like very strange candy.)
Thumbsucking and pacifiers
Pacifiers are oftentimes a parent’s saving grace. When your angel is screaming bloody murder in a crowded store, there’s only so much parent can take, Having a binkie on hand is often the fine line between total raving chaos and a peaceful shopping trip. Binkies are undeniably helpful for keeping your kid (and you) calm.
Like with most things, too much pacifier use is, well, too much. Overusing a pacifier or sucking on his thumb too much while his new pearly whites are coming in can misalign your kid’s teeth, ensuring orthodontist visits in both your futures.
Dentists advise weaning your kid off the pacifier by the age of one. Thumb-sucking is a little trickier and, if your young one’s permanent teeth have not yet come in, there’s probably no danger in it up until age four. But if the big-kid teeth have come in, it’s time to talk to your kid about letting go of the habit.
Nail-biting and pencil chewing
Many kids nibble on their nails and, when they set off to preschool, learn that an easy way to calm the fidgets is to gnaw on the end of a pen or pencil. Unfortunately, these habits are terrible for your toddler’s dental health. Nails, pens, and pencils have a lot of bacteria on them and when your kid puts these things into her mouth, the bacteria’s goes with them.
Additionally, chewing on non-food items leads to damage to your kiddo’s brand-new teeth. Not so great. As soon as you kid is old enough to understand, explain to her the downside to these habits and provide her with alternatives or a reward system to get her off the habit. It’s worth it in the long run.
Keeping track of all the day-to-day stuff associated with raising a kid is daunting, but starting your kid on the track to dental health is worth it. Dental professionals like the ones at San Diego Children’s Dentistry can ensure a smooth journey.