As an experienced Clackamas general dentist, Dr. Jeremy Suess and the rest of our team at Clackamas Smiles believe that regular dental care needs to start early in a child’s life to ensure a healthy foundation for their oral health development.
Dr. Suess and our team of gentle and caring dental professionals are excited to welcome our youngest patients to the Clackamas Smiles family. As we begin the journey towards enjoying a healthy smile for a lifetime, we understand that many parents have questions about their child’s oral health. With that in mind, here are a few answers to some common questions regarding when bring your child in to see a Clackamas general dentist that sees kids.
When should I schedule my child’s first appointment?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents schedule their child’s first visit to see the dentist by the age of one, or shortly after the first tooth eruption, whichever comes first. While this may seem like a young age, early dental care helps to ensure that a child’s oral health development continues on schedule without any delays.
It’s tempting to think of a child’s baby teeth as temporary, but they actually play a very important role in protecting a child’s long-term oral health.
Baby teeth act as space holders that work to help guide permanent teeth into position. When a child loses baby teeth at too young an age, permanent teeth can form crooked, crowded, or misaligned. This can create a need for orthodontic treatment to restore a child’s oral health. It can also increase the risk a child could develop an eating or speech disorder that would also require treatment to correct.
Fortunately, parents can help to lower their child’s risk of dental problems and get their child’s oral development off to a quality start by scheduling regular exams with our Clackamas general dentist.
What are some common oral health problems that could impact my child’s development?
Tooth decay ranks as the most common threat to a child’s long-term oral health. In fact, untreated tooth decay ranks as the most common chronic illness in children in the U.S.
From an early age, Baby Bottle Tooth decay can threaten to permanently damage a child’s oral health if not prevented or treated. Once teeth erupt in a child’s mouth, they are at risk of decay. The earlier the dental visit, the better chance Dr. Suess has of being able to prevent future oral health problems by treating tooth decay.
Prevention always ranks as better than treatment. Tooth decay and cavities are preventable through maintaining a child’s oral health, proper nutrition and diet, and with regular visits to see a Clackamas general dentist.
Teething is also another common issue for kids between six months to age three. It’s not uncommon for kids to experience gum tenderness when teeth begin to erupt. To help ease any discomfort, it’s not uncommon for kids to chew on their fingers and toys.
Children also express their discomfort by acting cranky, and they can develop a mild fever due to excessive drooling, dehydration, and from constantly putting dirty fingers and toys in their mouths. Providing your child with clean teething toys and frozen teething rings can help alleviate any discomfort while teething.
How should I clean my child’s teeth?
During infancy, you should clean your child’s gums with a soft, clean washcloth after each feeding.
Shortly after your child’s first tooth erupts, you can start brushing their teeth twice a day using a child-sized toothbrush and toothpaste that does NOT contain fluoride. Avoid using fluoridated toothpaste until your child is old enough to not swallow during brushing.
For kids under the age of two, use only a slight “smear” of toothpaste when brushing your child’s teeth. For kids between the ages of two to five, slightly increase the amount of toothpaste used to about pea-sized.
It’s important that parents help to brush their child’s teeth until they’re old enough to possess the manual dexterity and attention to detail needed to brush on their own. As a general rule of thumb, you should keep helping brush your child’s teeth until they can tie their own shoes.
You should start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as adjacent teeth touch to ensure the removal of any food or bacteria that might linger in the mouth after eating.
How do I keep my child cavity free?
Keeping your kids cavity-free makes for an excellent start to enjoying a great looking smile for a lifetime. By instilling positive oral hygiene habits at a young age, parents can help form the foundation of quality oral health for their kids now and into the future by:
- Setting a good example for your child by always maintaining your own oral hygiene.
- Use positive reinforcement to make good oral health a family priority.
- Brush your child’s teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride at least twice a day.
- Floss your child’s teeth at least once a day before brushing.
- When your child is old enough to brush on their own, supervise and provide helpful instruction.
- Schedule regular visits to see Clackamas general dentist Dr. Jeremy Suess from a young age.
- Help your child eat a balanced diet without excess sugars.
- Consider the use of dental sealants to help protect the most vulnerable areas of your child’s teeth.