“Take care of your teeth and they’ll take care of you” is an adage we all learn, sometimes the hard way! But, when is it appropriate to begin dental care for a child whose teeth aren’t even permanent? Dr. Rich Constantine of Constantine Dental of Greenville recommends visits when a child begins to show teeth! Starting early establishes dental care as a familiar (dare we say, fun) experience and is a great time for parents to learn the proper care of tiny teeth at home!
Thank you to Constantine Dental of Greenville for sponsoring this article. To learn more, visit their website.
Baby teeth don’t last, so why seek dental care?
Those front four primary teeth only last until about age 7 and the back cuspids and molars are replaced between ages 10-13, so why care for something so temporary? Milk and juices contain sugars. Constant bathing of teeth in sugary drinks can lead to decay, especially when children are left with bottles while falling asleep. In fact, the CDC recently found that 42% of children between ages 2-11 have untreated cavities!
Decay and cavities left untreated in temporary teeth can have long term consequences to developing permanent teeth! Dr. Constantine shared that a child with a cavity may develop bad chewing and eating habits due to pain or discomfort. Healthy teeth contribute to a child’s face and jaw muscle development along with their speech patterns. Also, baby teeth are placeholders for the eventual guiding of permanent teeth into their correct position! When we heard all of these reasons to care for teeth early, we were convinced!
Should I brush my child’s teeth/gums prior to visiting a dentist?
This is a tricky question to answer, said Dr Constantine, because technique depends on what the child will allow. The experience at home should be positive. It’s important to create the sensation of brushing in the mouth – either a finger sleeve brush or small soft bristled toothbrush. Toothpastes are not recommended until a child is old enough to understand not to swallow the paste. Brush twice a day for about 2 minutes at a time.
Engage children with books and cartoons about dental care!
Teaching a child to care for their teeth should be fun for everyone. We asked Dr Constantine for a few of his favorite books on the topic and we got a huge list!
- Brush, Brush, Brush (great for toddlers)
- The Tooth Book (Dr. Seuss)
- Brush Your Teeth, Please (pop-up book!)
- Ready, Set, Brush! (perfect for the Elmo lover)
- Sugar Bug Doug
- Just Going to the Dentist (Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter)
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
Apps for your phone:
- Disney Magic Timer by OralB
- Phillips Sonicare for Kids
- Brush DJ
- Brush Up: Toothbrush Trainer
Plaque is white and fuzzy, so how do I teach my child it’s there?
Plaque is very hard to see! Another fun tip to teach your child about good oral health is using a special plaque identifying paste called PlaqueHD! It turns those germs green and helps a child brush, especially paying attention to the gumlines where it’s super sticky! Even better is that this special toothpaste comes in yummy flavors – mint and bubble gum berry!
My child is way beyond those first teeth showing, what now?
It’s never too late to start good habits! If you’ve gotten this far in reading, don’t be discouraged. Make an appointment to see a dentist today. Dr. Constantine would love to care for your child!
Twice a year dental care is recommended, but is it safe with COVID-19?
Visit your dentist twice a year for healthy visits! As your child grows, recommendations for self-care will be changed and adapted to his or her mouth and sports activities.
Dr. Constantine’s office has taken a ton of precautions to keep patients and their staff safe. Check out their video explaining their Covid-19 precautions. Some examples of their safety measures include air purifiers, extra personal protective equipment, additional high volume suction equipment to further reduce aerosols, social distancing, limited use of their waiting room to caregivers of medically compromised patients and also children, and longer appointment times. Dr. Constantine welcomes people to stop in or to call and ask questions if they have a concern!