(KUTV) Proper oral health addresses a child’s whole mouth and begins before he/she even has teeth. Parents are encouraged to start caring for their child’s oral health by using a washcloth to wipe their gums – especially after feeding.
“That just helps keep all of their soft tissue healthy so there’s no food in there for the bacteria to live and grow on,” says Dr. Catherine Strasser, Pediatrician at Intermountain Layton Parkway Clinic.
As soon as a child gets their first tooth, it’s time to start brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush. A baby’s first toothbrush is usually either a finger cot toothbrush or the brush that looks like a banana.
“These (finger cot toothbrushes) are easy to use. You just put them on a finger and you can start brushing,” says Dr. Strasser.
As children get older, they will advance to different brushes. Check the packaging to see what’s recommended for your child. Dr. Strasser recommends brushing for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
“Fluoride really helps prevent cavities. What fluoride does is it actually strengthens the enamel,” says Dr. Strasser.
Some counties have fluoride in the water, but if you live in an area where fluoride is NOT in the water, talk to your pediatrician about fluoride supplementation.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that we start applying fluoride varnish at six months of age for children who are high risk for cavity development,” says Dr. Strasser.
Fluoride varnish can be applied every three months until the child is five years old. It’s quick, fast, and can be done in a pediatrician’s office.
Children should begin flossing as soon as their teeth begin to touch. This is around the age of two and is when most children have all 20 of their “baby” teeth.
Finally, remember to pay a visit to the dentist before your child’s first birthday.
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