Back to School: A parent’s review of children’s dental basics

Now that the summer is almost over, it is time to get your kids into the dentist before school starts back up! In the meantime, here is a review of things to do for your children.

Babies should not be sent to bed with a bottle. If they need a bottle, use water instead of milk or a sugary drink. Make sure your baby gets some fluoride from their water. If they use a pacifier, discontinue it after age 2, as it can cause developmental problems with their jaws or teeth. Rub gums and teeth with a wet wash cloth to clean baby’s teeth. (No need to use toothpaste at this age.)

As children get older, you may assist in the brushing and flossing of their teeth. Use a small pea sized amount of toothpaste on a child sized toothbrush. Brush for 2 minutes, 2 times per day. It is best after breakfast and at bedtime. You can play their favorite song and have them brush for the entire song, which may be about two minutes long. Brushing reduces the growth of plaque which is the sticky film of bacteria which can cause cavities and gum disease. You may also help with flossing. We recommend flossing once/day.

Bring kids in to see the dentist at a young age to start them on a good path for oral health. We typically see kids around age 2 or 3 for their first dental visit.

When planning meals and lunches for the kids, there are foods that are good for oral health. Those that contain calcium such as milk, yogurt, cheese, greens such as spinach and kale, and beans are helpful to teeth and jaws, which are primarily made of calcium. Iron helps with brain development and fights against anemia. Iron is in red meat, beans and iron fortified low sugar cereals. Vitamin C helps to keep gums healthy, and is in oranges, red peppers, strawberries and broccoli.

Things you may want to avoid would include too many sugary snacks, like cookies, candy, sports drinks and fruit juices. Moderation is the key for carbohydrates such as chips, bread, pasta, cracker and pretzels, since their breakdown releases acid on teeth which may lead to decay. Another acid exposure may come from carbonated drinks such as sodas. Sodas can lead to loss of enamel, decay and sensitive teeth for those who drink a lot of them.

So before your kids are back in school, review their oral health, get them in to see their dentist, and plan for healthy lunches and snacks to give them the best dental health possible!

Elizabeth Fleming, DDS and the staff at Desert Ridge Smiles

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