Kids are constantly growing and changing, and their mouths are no exception! Throughout childhood, kids lose their baby teeth, gain adult teeth, and they begin to take ownership of their own oral health. From brushing to braces to practicing their smile, oral health is important for every kid at every stage.
We know you love to see your child smile! Neighborhood Smiles does too. Read our tips to learn how to help keep your kid smiling for life.
Caring for Kids Teeth
Your child’s first teeth, often called “baby teeth” make their momentous arrival and continue to serve many purposes until they fall out and are replaced by adult teeth. Baby teeth hold a place in the jaw and pave the way for the adult teeth to grow in properly.
Kids who develop cavities are more likely to develop them later as adults. Don’t dismiss the importance of oral health for kids, even though there’s so much transition in their mouth in these early days.
Basic oral health for kids includes brushing and flossing twice a day. Be sure your child is brushing long enough (and having some fun) by playing a favorite song that’s roughly two minutes long and brush the whole time.
Very young children may still need help and supervision to be sure they’ve thoroughly brushed all their teeth. But don’t wait to teach your kid how to do this on her own—kids are more likely to participate if they feel empowered and valued in the process.
For kids 3 and up, fluoride toothpaste is safe and recommended for the best tooth care and prevention.
Kids need good nutrition for growing, healthy bodies—teeth and gums included! Serve meals with lots of vitamins and minerals, and make sugary snacks and drinks a rare treat to prevent cavities and tooth decay.
And of course, take your child to see the dentist twice a year for checkups and professional cleanings.
Care for Every Occasion
Your kid’s oral healthcare should be just as personal as all of their interests and activities. Depending on your family’s lifestyle, here are some special ways to celebrate and protect your kid’s teeth:
- Consider fun “Tooth Fairy” traditions to celebrate your child’s growth as they lose their baby teeth and gains the adult set.
- It’s very important that kids wear mouth guards while playing sports. Losing a tooth (baby or adult) causes a lot of other problems in the mouth, and mouth guards can even help prevent concussions!
- If your kid does lose a tooth (playing sports or otherwise), keep it clean and wet in water or milk and call your dentist immediately. Use the emergency answering service if it’s after normal business hours.
- Older kids and teens start to become aware of their appearance and bad breath. These are extra reasons to encourage healthy habits (like brushing, flossing, and wearing that retainer) to build confidence.
Dentists Love Kids!
Children should visit the dentist twice a year, just like adults. After cleaning your child’s teeth, your dentist may suggest:
- Sealants, a strong “sealing” material over the chewing surface of teeth to prevent cavities. (Sealants are cheaper than getting a cavity filled, too.)
- Depending on age, mouth size, and state of the wisdom teeth, your dentist might suggest scheduling a minor extraction procedure to have them removed.
- Braces, spacers and other orthodontics might be necessary to help your child’s mouth grow in the healthiest shape.