Good dental care goes beyond just twice daily brushing and flossing after meals. Believe it or not, great dental hygiene and practice actually start before the first tooth ever appears. Fun fact: teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of a woman’s pregnancy and by birth, a baby is born with up to 20 primary teeth hidden in their jaws!
The best way to start caring for your little hero’s dental needs is by using a moist and warm cloth to wipe down the gums after every feeding. Wiping down the residue of formula or breast milk is a simple and non-harsh way of preventing the dreaded Sugarbugs from doing damage. Continue doing this until the first tooth appears, which is usually around six months of age.
It’s minty, it’s refreshing, it’s white and sometimes blue. It’s toothpaste! Note that not all toothpastes are created equal, especially when choosing the first one for your little hero. Use a rice-sized smudge of fluoride toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush after your little hero’s very first tiny tooth appears. Using products with fluoride will prevent cavities and minimize the risk of fluorosis.
Some dentists and pediatricians claim that no toothpaste is needed at all for children under the age of two due to the harsh nature of fluoride. The concern, however, is not in the fluoride itself, rather the consumption and overconsumption of the product since some of the things we consume already contain fluoride, like drinking water.
A 2014 study claims that over 25% of children in kindergarten or younger have already developed at least one or more cavities due to improper dental care. The American Dental Association monitored a study that showed most cavities were caused by using the wrong kind of toothpaste.
At the age of about three, dentists recommend parents begin to explore toothpastes with fluoride. However, they advise against commercial products with cartoon figures on their labels as they can contain dicalcium phosphate dehydrate, excessive fluoride and other harsh components that could be harmful to the growth of new teeth.
Your little hero should spit out excess toothpaste immediately after brushing as it can contain sugar. Children three and up should also start flossing as their teeth are now touching and can begin to build up bacteria in harder to reach areas. The first flossing years should be done with soft, waxed string to protect the gums.
Covering the basics of dental hygiene can be easily taken care of at home, but it is always a smart idea to regularly visit a dentist. Call Little Heroes Pediatric Dentistry at 956.267.5573 today for information on scheduling a checkup with our friendly, knowledgeable dental team!