. . . I know I’m not a dentist, but I do care for kids (and parents) who need dental advice. Those pearly whites need some care to stay healthy. . .
At physician visits, dental screening should start at 5 months. This will reveal new teeth erupting, oral lesions or abnormal development. Textbooks state most kids get their first tooth at 7 months of age. Teeth routinely show up in pairs.
To avoid cavities avoid. . .
- Prolonged breast or bottle feeding (>12 months)
- Frequent consumption of sugary beverages and snacks
- Use of a training cup (sippy cup) throughout the day
- Drinking a bottle at bed time (unless filled with tap water)
- Taking liquid medication for longer than three weeks
- Insufficient fluoride exposure
- Visible plaque on upper front teeth
- Enamel pits or defects
- Exposure to passive tobacco smoke
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests a first dental visit be at one year of age, but many dentists will not see a child so small. Most all dentists accept children by 3 years of age. Parents can clean a child’s teeth with a wet washcloth or soft-bristled toothbrush once daily from 6 months to 24 months. This makes the child aware dental hygiene will be performed daily and it extracts food and bacteria from the mouth. After 24 months this should be done twice daily.
To avoid fluorosis (discoloration and softening of the teeth from too much fluoride), use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and beware of kids eating the toothpaste (Hey, the bubblegum flavor is tasty!) Flossing should be started when teeth touch and toothbrush bristles cannot reach between the teeth.
Fluoride supplementation should be considered starting at 6 months. Wichita water is nonfluoridated, so local children need fluoride from oral rinses, supplements or toothpaste.
One other common mouth problem to consider is teeth grinding. ¼ of kids do this with the peak age between 7-10 years. Children usually stop grinding, rarely needing intervention.
Adult teeth grinding is another matter altogether. . .