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Dentists' top 10 tips to keep your kids' teeth healthy
A strong dose of prevention can help your child avoid some of the more invasive and intense dental procedures (though, as with everything health-related, there is no way to guarantee it). Here is some advice for securing, recovering, and sustaining oral health.
Oral health begins as early as in infancy. Clean your child’s gums and mouth with a washcloth before teeth start coming in, says Renuka Bijoor, D.D.S., who practices at Briarcliff Pediatric Dentistry in Briarcliff Manor. Once his teeth come in, you can use a finger brush or baby toothbrush with just water, no toothpaste required, and then maintain the routine of brushing every morning and night.
Your child should see a dentist regularly after her first tooth comes in. Dr. Bijoor recommends your child see the dentist when she turns 1 or six months after her first tooth comes in. She should then see the doctor every six months thereafter. “Parents should get them to the dentist early so we can help treat and coach them at an early age,” adds Marc Adelberg, D.D.S., who practices at Adelberg Montalvan Pediatric Dentistry, which has three locations on Long Island.
Understand your dentist’s emergency procedures early on. At an early age, your child’s teeth are vulnerable to trauma such as tooth chipping from tripping on the playground, says Rania Elbaz, D.D.S., who practices at Merrick Pediatric Dentistry in Merrick. Most dentists reserve time in their daily schedules for such emergency occasions, allowing them to take action on her teeth immediately. Discuss with your dentist what to do when emergencies arise—before any actually happen.
Visit the proper pediatric dentist. Go to the dentist that best fits your child’s specific needs, says Glen Ehrenman, D.D.S., who practices at Ehrenman & Khan Pediatric Dentistry in Westbury. Some examples of what your child may need include habit counseling for pacifier use or thumb sucking, special preventative care for teething and gum disease, or management of conditions such as ulcers and tongue-tie.
Maintain regular routines. Dr. Elbaz recommends your child follow the proper routine of having her teeth brushed every morning and night once they start coming in. Brushing and flossing should be as much a part of her expected daily set of activities as bathing, changing clothes or pajamas, and the like.
Eat a proper diet. Limit juice, snacks, and sugars, Dr. Ehrenman says. Frequent snacking can build up carbohydrates in the mouth, leading to acids that could promote tooth decay. Snacks should be healthy and not too sticky or full of sugar.
Avoid caloric drinks after nighttime brushing. Consuming calories after brushing one’s teeth—which we do to eliminate the buildup of plaque on the teeth—defeats the point of brushing, Dr. Elbaz says. Items to avoid include soda, juices, and milk; water is okay.
Help your children with brushing until they learn to tie their own shoes. That’s when a child’s motor skills are advanced enough for him to be adept at brushing his own teeth properly.
Give your child fluoride supplementation. Children can be given fluoride vitamin supplements that’ll help strengthen their permanent teeth in the future, Dr. Ehrenman says.
Don’t give up. It is important for you not to stop performing a dental-health routine or technique because your child isn’t cooperating or making a fuss, Dr. Bijoor says. Eventually, children will get used to the routine. And, eventually, they may even thank you for helping to keep their mouths healthy.
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Jonathan Perry is journalism graduate interning at NYMetroParents for the fall of 2016. His favorite hobbies are reading and sports. See More.
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