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National Children’s Dental Health Month-a good time to review how to best care for your child’s chompers

Published: Feb. 13, 2021 at 2:31 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and a Wyoming dentist shared the best tips to keep your child’s teeth healthy and happy. It’s quite timely to review good oral habits, as Valentine’s Day is upon us, and that means lots of candy and chocolate are exchanged between children. Dentists agree, it’s important to limit sugar intake, but what are some of the other ways you can care for your children and their oral health?

Dr. Crane of Rendezvous Dental in Riverton stated, “I really like it when their very first dental checkup can be a happy visit. The first visits are often nothing more than to sit in the chair and go for a ride. We use a toothbrush to polish their teeth, we show them Alli the Alligator, and let them brush Alli’s teeth.” This first happy visit should happen between one and two years of age, typically at 18 months.

“That way they develop a positive attitude about going to the dentist and they don’t associate it with it’s going to hurt, and it’s going to be problematic.” No matter the age, it’s important to be using the right toothbrush and toothpaste. The best style for the youngest children is a soft brush that fits on the parent’s finger. That style is for 3-24 months, but a child can be transitioned to a small toothbrush a little sooner than that if desired. However, be sure that before they can spit, to be using a non-fluoride toothpaste. The size of the toothbrush should grow with the child until they are a teenager, at which time they may use a regular adult toothbrush.

Floss is only necessary to start once the child’s teeth have grown so close together that they’re touching. “When a toothbrush won’t reach in between the teeth anymore the only way to get that area clean is with dental floss. A lot of times I’ll see kids come in, and on the X-rays we see little cavities because they haven’t been using dental floss,” noted Dr. Crane.

Besides brushing twice a day for two minutes, and flossing once a day, it’s a good idea to discourage thumb sucking. However it’s not something to worry about when they’re quite young. “Sometimes you can see in ultrasounds in the womb they’re sucking on their fingers and their thumb, so there’s nothing unnatural or not good about it.” When the child is small there’s no need to be concerned, but Dr. Crane noted that the only time it becomes problematic is when their jaw and teeth are developing. If the child hasn’t stopped at a certain point of their growth, they can end up with a bad overbite. The American Dental Association recommends to discourage your child from sucking their thumb at age four.

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