Dental care of the child focuses on prevention and detection of any dental problems. It includes education about oral hygiene, preventive measures, and treatment of any problems.
Regular brushing and flossing by children can reduce or eliminate plaque, a bacteria-rich deposit that settles on the teeth. Through regular teeth cleaning, the dentist or hygienist can remove the remnants of plaque missed through brushing and flossing. These plaque remnants adhere to the teeth as tartar or calculus. Special tools may be needed to remove plaque around dental work or other areas of the mouth that are hard to clean.
Proper dental hygiene that removes bacterial residue will keep breath fresh. Periodic examinations and dental X-rays are also important. These X-rays can spot dental disease at an early stage when it is easily treated.
A child's first visit to the dentist should occur when the first few baby teeth appear. This is usually around 6 months of age and the first visit should be a get-acquainted visit. After most of the baby teeth have come in at about 3 years of age, the child should begin regular dental visits. Most children who go to the dentist at this young age do not develop a fear of the dentist. The dentist will show the parent home methods to care for the very small child's teeth.
Specific advice regarding the care of children's teeth may include the following: Don't let a child go to bed with a bottle. Sugars from milk and juice can cause baby bottle tooth decay.Discourage sweet snacks that contain tooth-damaging sugars.Discuss the need for fluoride supplements. This will vary depending on the local water supply, which may already contain fluoride.Follow sports safety guidelines for children to avoid injuries to the teeth.Have an adult dispense the child's toothpaste when the child is very young so that the child does not swallow too much toothpaste. Toothpaste the size of a peanut is more than enough.Teach the child how to brush his or her teeth and gums twice a day as soon as the child can handle a child-size toothbrush.Use a damp washcloth or soft toothbrush to gently clean baby teeth.