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10 Secrets to Raising Kids … Cavity-Free!

Introducing kids to new things can be fun, challenging, exciting, and even frustrating. I can still remember when I was a kid, it seemed that cavities were a given—prompting the dentist to pry, poke and drill for what seemed to be hours. This was normal. However, things have changed. Technological advancements and modernization have made way for much safer and generally better visits to the dentist—a benefit to children today. Individuals have become more aware of the importance of good dental hygiene, and parents now know, more than ever before, that regular dental visits are important.

Here are 10 helpful tips (secrets) to keep kids cavity-free:

1. When should dental hygiene start? One should begin by cleaning a baby’s mouth with a clean gauze pad the first week the child is brought home from the hospital. Although most babies don’t have any teeth until about six months of age, a daily cleaning in infancy will get the child accustomed to the process, and ensure clean and healthy gums when the teeth do come in. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child should have his or her first dental visit by the age of 1.

2. By starting early, a baby is more likely to embrace good dental hygiene when teeth do arrive. One should incorporate the use of a toothbrush and toothpaste by the time one’s child gets their first tooth.

3. A child’s first visit to the dentist should be around the age of 1. Although baby teeth eventually fall out, this is very important for a child’s dental development. The mouth and jaw muscles form around the structural foundation of the first set of teeth.

4. If a child has a thumb-sucking habit, this must cease before permanent teeth arrive. Although sucking on a thumb or pacifier is a natural and satisfying behavior for babies, it can alter the position of developing teeth and dental arches if it continues after the emergence of permanent teeth.

5. Incorporate the latest advances in cavity prevention.

6. Refrain from giving a child a bottle filled with juice or milk at night.

7. If a child needs a nighttime bottle, it should be diluted with water; be sure to wipe the teeth with a wet cloth after the feeding.

8. For those that live in communities with no access to fluoridated water, a fluoride rinse or bottled water containing fluoride can be substituted. Individuals and parents should research the benefits and favorable statistical data on fluoride usage if concerned.

9. Studies reveal that children under the age of 7 need some assistance when brushing teeth due to the lack of dexterity. For independent-minded kids, the parent can allow the child to brush his or her teeth first. Afterward, the parent can correctly brush his or her own teeth as a teaching exercise.

10. Most importantly, children learn their behavior mostly through observation. This makes the parent’s dental hygiene habits just as important as the child’s. Parents, make sure to get regular dental checkups, and clean and floss regularly.

By incorporating these 10 secrets into a child’s dental hygiene and developmental care, great dental habits, healthy teeth and beautiful smiles are sure to follow. My philosophy is teach children to enjoy visits to the dentist; then, if dental care is needed, he or she will be unafraid, willing and ready.

For more information, call the Children’s Dental Group at 803-781-5141.

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