By Keith Atito
Raising a toddler can be extremely overwhelming especially for new moms and dads. As parents, we try to do everything that we can – from encouraging them to eat their first bite of broccoli (yay!), potty training and teaching them how to share their toys with other kids.
We also have to deal with their overall health including their nutrition, quality of sleep and how they cope with sickness. Amidst all these, oral care often takes a back seat, only to be revisited when our little ones experience their first ever toothache or dental emergency.
With this in mind, we have gathered six practical oral care tips for parents like you.
- Take good care of your toddler’s baby teeth. Children will eventually lose their baby teeth but that doesn’t mean that they are not important. Your toddler’s baby teeth serve as “space savers” for their adult teeth and the early loss of milk teeth can cause problems in occlusion or the way the teeth and jaw come in contact with each other.
- Brush your toddler’s teeth with the right amount of fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before putting them to bed. Start brushing with a soft toothbrush as soon as the first tooth erupts. The right amount of fluoride is safe and important in keeping your child’s teeth strong and healthy.
- Do not give your babies or toddlers sugary drinks at bedtime. Allowing formula, breastmilk or fruit juices to pool in your child’s mouth can lead to a serious condition called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries (ECC). When ECC is left untreated, the infection can become serious leading to high fever, admission into the hospital, emergency room visits, dental trauma and a much higher cost of treatment.
- Don’t leave your toddler with a sippy cup, unless it only contains water. Sippy cups are used to help your child switch from the bottle to a cup. It shouldn’t be used for a long period of time – it’s neither a feeding bottle nor a pacifier. When a child take sips of fruit juices and other sweetened fluids for extended periods of time, they’re exposed to a higher risk of decay.
- Let your pediatric dentist know if you notice that your toddler constantly breathes through the mouth. Mouth breathing is very common in young children and can lead to serious complications later in life. Mouth breathing reduces the salivary flow and dries out the mouth which can increase your child’s risk of gingivitis, periodontitis and bad breath. It can also lead to problems with your child’s occlusion.
- Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly. Regular dental checkups with a specialist help prevent dental problems like tooth decay before they arise. It is also the best time to tackle your toddlers’ diet, oral hygiene and oral habits such as the use of pacifiers and thumb sucking. Prevention is less traumatic and cost way less than bringing your child for a treatment.