More than a year, we had to scrutinize every appointment, had to postpone most of our errands and had to decline almost every invitation that we received. Unprecedented risk management.
One of the side effects of this “risk management” is that the majority of parents decided to skip on their children’s dental care appointments, even if they are preventative. Approximately 40% of parents decided to avoid seeking care at all, whether it’s because infection concerns, office closure or costs.
And now, when things are starting to ease up a little bit, getting an appointment is quite difficult because of the backlog.
Keeping up with routine dental checkups is important, even during a pandemic. And in order to make those appointments as smooth as possible, children’s teeth and gums need to be keep clean.
When should you start with dental check-ups?
Many parents think that the first dental check-up can wait until the child actually has a few teeth for the dentist to check. Experts on the other hand say that checkups should be done even if the child only has one teeth or at least by the first birthday. And from then, they should visit the dentist for a routine check-up every 6 months.
Babies and children can also develop tooth decay. And even though those are only temporary teeth that are just placeholders for permanent teeth, tooth decay at such a young age can indicate high probability of tooth decay later on in life. Severe tooth decay can also have significant effects on the overall health too.
Regular dental hygiene at home
Regular and proper at-home dental hygiene between two checkups is extremely important, and for some parents, also challenging. Because of this, parents have to be creative, research tips, songs, smartphone apps that will motivate and encourage their kids to brush their teeth twice a day. It doesn’t take long. But those two minutes seem like an eternity to an energetic kid.
When to start?
With an early start, when only one or two teeth have emerged or when their smile are just gums, you can develop a consistent routine. This way the child will learn that brushing its teeth is something that he/she must do. If you do decide to start early on but your child still has no teeth, instead of a toothbrush, you could use a soft washcloth and warm water.
Should you use toothpaste?
American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that parents should start using fluoride toothpaste but the important thing is NOT to overdo it. In the beginning, you should use only a small amount (like a grain of rice) until they are 3 years old. From the age of 3, until the age of 6, you can use a bit more (pea size). And since most kids don’t know how to spit yet, when you’re brushing their teeth, make sure that you angle their mouth down. This way the toothpaste will simply dribble out.
When to brush?
Teaching your kids to brush their teeth is one thing. Teaching them when to brush them is second. Dentists recommend that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day: after breakfast and before sleep. Brushing after breakfast will ensure that they stay clean for most part of the day. Same goes for brushing before sleep. And make sure that the last thing touching their teeth before they head to bed is a toothbrush. So no snacks, bottles etc. after that, otherwise you’re undoing everything you’ve done.
When to start flossing?
You might not know this but kids also need to floss and many parents are not entirely sure when to start. The general rule is quite simple – as soon as there are two teeth touching. Until that time, the bristles from the toothbrush will be more than sufficient to remove the plaque and food residue from AND in between their teeth.
Oral health and regular dental checkups for children are just as important as they are for adult. So make sure that you have their dental appointment schedule every six months and that they stay on top of their dental hygiene routine.