The pandemic has changed our lives in a myriad of ways. Some big changes were temporary, like the stay home orders and closing down of schools, businesses and healthcare facilities except for emergency situations (like our own). Other changes are smaller and more lasting such as social distancing, wearing masks, and the caution we now have as we engage with our communities in sports and social activities. Through it all unless you had a dental emergency, it is highly possible that your kids’ dental health took a back seat in your priorities. But let’s get it back on track as your family gets back into the swing of school and finding a new normal. Keep those teeth healthy with the following tips:
1. Schedule a Cleaning
Dental cleanings weren’t considered part of the emergency health services during the quarantine lockdown, but we’ve been open for business again as of April 27, and are here to check your children’s teeth for cavities or other potential issues and give them a good cleaning. Some experts are worried about a second wave of COVID 19 as our communities go back to school, so don’t wait to get that routine visit taken care of, contact us today!
We have four locations in the Salt Lake City area, so call the one nearest you if you’ve never been, or your favorite if you’re already a patient of ours. We are always accepting new patients so we can find a time and day of the week that works well for you. For some tips about scheduling the checkup so your little one can be at their best, check out our post “10 Tips to Ensure a Positive Experience at the Dentist for Your Kids”. We’ve simplified the paperwork process for you a bit; you can fill out our easy New Patient Form online.
2. Start Brushing Your Babies’ Teeth
If you’ve brought a new little one into the world this year, congratulations! What a story for them you will have when they get older, about the era in which they were born. You might believe that since they don’t have teeth you don’t need to worry about brushing just yet. But on the contrary, brushing should begin before their first tooth erupts. For more information about when you should start dental visits for your baby, we’ve written a post just for that topic, “At What Age Should You Take Your Child to the Dentist?”
Did you know that your baby is born with their teeth already forming (some already fully formed) in the jaw? Before any teeth have erupted, get them accustomed to the sensation of having something rub/brush along their gum line. For this, simply use a wet wash cloth (wet with only water) and rub gently to remove any bacteria that may be lying in wait.
Once a tooth or teeth have erupted, you’ll need to switch to an infant toothbrush. At this stage, you can begin to use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste, no more than the size of a grain of rice. If you are wondering why the toothpaste should be a fluoride toothpaste, read our post “Why is Fluoride Important to My Child’s Dental Health?”
Start flossing once they have any two teeth that are side by side. Introducing floss at a young age will not only help them to adjust to it, but as they get older and flossing becomes even more important, it will already be part of their routine.
Once your little one turns two, begin the process of teaching them to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it. This is not an easy task and won’t happen overnight, but avoid the misstep of offering a cup of water to swish it around before spitting. Often that tends to increase the likelihood that they will swallow. Some kids might think spitting is fun, and that can be challenging from an appropriate behavior standpoint but you could use that to your advantage when it comes to brushing teeth. Suggest to your kids that when brushing teeth, it is appropriate to spit.
It is important that you start brushing early because babies can get tooth decay. There are sugars in formula and milk, and even if you are committed to only breastfeeding, bacteria can still find its way into your baby’s mouth.
3. Make Food and Snack Decisions that Help Prevent Cavities
Some days it seems that your kids never stop snacking. Perhaps that was especially true when they were home all day with you and couldn’t go anywhere. If you can, schedule eating times so that their teeth aren’t continually assaulted by food and sugars and bacteria all day long. Be mindful about the types of foods they are snacking on. Can you remove or limit sugary juices and sodas? Do you have healthy snack foods stocked in your pantry and refrigerator for easy access and little preparation? We explored the topic of health snacking in depth in our post, “Do-eats and Don’t-eats for Kids to Promote Healthy Teeth”. Additionally, if you are looking for ways you can encourage your kids to eat healthier foods, check out our tips, “To Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy – Try these 7 Magic Tricks”.
4. Routine Brushing and Flossing
We saved the best for last. We’ve said it before, and you’ll hear us say it again and again. Routine brushing and flossing is a necessary and perhaps the most important part of keeping your children’s teeth healthy. Make it routine in the morning and at night before bed, for two minutes. Let them pick out their own toothbrush (age appropriate), play a tooth brushing song while they do it, or count to 20 for each side top and bottom and front top and bottom.
We hope this helps your family get back on track with keeping teeth clean and having healthy smiles. We look forward to seeing your families again, and meeting new families as the school year begins!