Did you know that different oral health risks occur at different ages? That means you’ll need new oral hygiene habits and dental treatments at different stages of your life.
In our Oral Hygiene Tips blog series, we’re taking a look at the kinds of oral health issues you should expect and the habits you should practice at certain ages. Our West Michigan family dentists will be there for you every step of the way.
For our first blog, let’s discuss some oral health risks and hygiene tips for children.
Oral Health Risks for Children
The two most common health risks for young children are cavities and common dental emergencies.
of children ages 2 to 11 have had dental caries (cavities) in their baby teeth. While this statistic is troubling, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute — why does it matter if cavities form in baby teeth? Aren’t they going to fall out anyway?”
While it’s true that baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) aren’t permanent, that doesn’t mean tooth decay is less of a problem. We have to treat cavities in children’s primary teeth so their adult teeth will emerge correctly.
Also, untreated cavities in primary teeth can invite dangerous infections into the body just as much as untreated cavities in adult teeth. Tooth fillings for children with cavities can help stop tooth decay and prevent gum disease.
Childhood is full of bumps and bruises. As a parent, you probably know the difference between a small scrape and something more serious, but what if you have to evaluate a dental injury? Do you know how to identify a dental emergency?
Common dental emergencies for children include:
- Knocked out tooth
- Cracked tooth
- Tongue or lip bite
- Object stuck in teeth
Generally speaking, if your child’s injury presents an immediate threat to their health (e.g., a broken tooth with jagged edges), you should see our emergency dentists at once. If your child is struggling with something less urgent, like a minor toothache that isn’t interrupting their ability to eat, sleep, or speak, then you can schedule an appointment with our family dentists and we’ll see your child as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that serious facial trauma requires emergency medical treatment, not dental treatment. If your child has a dental emergency, like a lost tooth, but also other injuries, like a broken nose, then you should take your child to the emergency room first.
Good Oral Hygiene Habits for Children
The best way to protect against dental emergencies and cavities is to practice good oral hygiene habits. For children ages 0–9, our West Michigan children’s dentists focus on:
- Proper brushing technique: Even before your child has teeth, you should regularly with a gentle washcloth. Once their teeth start coming in, start brushing. Your child can start brushing (with your supervision) as soon as they can hold a toothbrush and spit on their own. Your child should brush their teeth twice a day.
- Fluoride treatments: is a naturally-occurring mineral that strengthens tooth enamel. We encourage parents to buy fluoridated toothpaste for their children. Our family dentists can apply a stronger fluoride treatment in our office to protect your child’s teeth as well.
- Dental sealants: Our West Michigan dentists can use dental sealants to protect your child’s first and second molars from cavities. As soon as these emerge, we’ll paint a sealant on them to keep food debris and bacteria out, preventing tooth decay.
- Proper eating habits: It’s never too early to teach your child that sugary foods and drinks lead to cavities. Help your child establish healthy eating habits to protect their oral health and their overall health.
- Dental and orthodontic visits: It’s important to get in the habit of taking your child to the dentist every six months. That way, we can monitor the development of their teeth and respond to any problems before they develop into dental emergencies. Additionally, between the ages of 7 and 9, you’ll typically want to schedule your child’s first orthodontic visit.
Protect Your Child’s Oral Health
Our West Michigan children’s dentists can help you keep your child’s oral health on the right track, whether they’re dealing with cavities, suffering from a dental emergency, or just need preventative care. With four practices in West Michigan, we have the capability of handling all of your family’s dental needs. To schedule an appointment, call MI Smiles Dental at (616) 974-4990.