Getting Started

“AHHH” Your child screams as they are instructed by their dentist, to open their mouth big and wide at their checkup.

Your child’s oral health is an important part of their growing process. Having a good routine from the start not only helps your child now but prepares them for the future. Being proactive about their oral health will have a positive effect on their overall health.

The best place to start is by implementing healthy habits.

Healthy Habits

What is the Ideal Oral Health Routine for Kids?

There are few things that bring you more joy than the big, contagious smiles of your kids. These goofy grins, filled with delight at some of the silliest or simplest things, make the stress of a hard day worth it. So, how do you protect that smile and ensure that it stays happy and healthy?

Before Birth

Your little one’s teeth start forming between the third and sixth month of pregnancy. This means, pregnant mothers can get a head start and begin caring for their children's oral health even before they enter the world. One of the best ways to do that is for mom to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, rich with the proper amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.

Right After Birth  

Once your baby is born, you can use a clean, moist wash cloth or gauze pad to clean your child’s gums. Additionally, before teeth begin to break through the gums, systemic fluoride can be ingested to help strengthen tooth enamel. This helps to fight cavities. (Quick note: After teeth emerge, fluoride can be applied through toothpaste and fluoride rinses. Toothpaste should not be swallowed due to the amount of fluoride present in it; eating too much fluoride can discolor the teeth.)

Baby’s First Tooth

Once your baby’s first tooth emerges, you should take your child for his or her first dentist appointments. This allows the dentist to look for tooth decay and screen for behaviors that have negative effects on teeth, such as thumb sucking. The dentist will also guide you on how to brush your children's teeth. Guidelines include:

  • For children under three years, use a smear of toothpaste with fluoride the size of a grain of rice on a child-size toothbrush.
  • For children ages three to six, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. 
  • Brush children's teeth twice a day.

Caring for Permanent Teeth

Once your child’s permanent teeth begin to arrive, ensure that he or she brushes for two minutes twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. They should also start flossing once a day. These important steps maintain the health of their teeth and gums. Sometimes dentists will apply sealants to children’s molars to prevent decay. This service is typically covered at a minimal or no cost on a good dental insurance plan.

Now that you’re ready to help your child keep a good oral routine, the next step is to keep a healthy diet for your growing child’s needs! Staying away from acidic, sugary sweets and sticky foods are a given, but what are some other foods your child should stay away from?

Healthy Diet for your Kids’ Teeth

Once your child takes the bus to school or you drop them off at the carpool lane, there’s only so much you can do to control what your child eats during the day. Packing them a lunch is a great start! However, it’s easy to forget when they are celebrating a classmate’s birthday or taking a class field trip. Teaching them the right habits at home is the best way to encourage healthy eating wherever they go!

Here are some tips on how to provide healthy options for your kids:

The Go-To’s and the No-No’s

Go-To: Fruits and Vegetables

  • These are a must in your child’s diet! Not only are they healthy, but they have a lot of natural vitamins and minerals that are great for your growing child. If your child is a picky eater, try introducing these items in small doses. Some ways could be having 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice drinks with no added sugar, or adding a piece of fruit or vegetable as part of every meal or snack.

No-No: Carbohydrates (Carbs)

  • In moderation, carbohydrates are okay! However, if your child is constantly consuming items such as pasta, bread, chips, cookies and crackers – which are high in carbs and sugar – these can lead to tooth decay because they stick to your child’s teeth.

Go-To: Cheese

  • Certain kinds of cheese, such as Swiss and cheddar, are great for saliva flow. This helps wash away food particles in your child’s mouth and away from their teeth, making these a great snack option.

No-No: Sugary drinks

  • In moderation, sugary drinks are okay. However, try to keep your child hydrated on water. Sugary drinks can form cavities and lead to tooth decay with the sugar sticking to your child’s teeth. If they do drink these on occasion, try to have them drink out of a straw to keep the liquid away from their teeth.

Now these are just a few, but there are so many healthy options for you and your child to explore! Remember – anything sugary, sticky and sweet is fine for your kids when kept in moderation.

Does Kids' Oral Health Affect Their Adult Teeth?

A good routine and a healthy diet are synonymous with your child’s oral health.  But what happens when their adult teeth start to come in – can they be affected by your child’s baby teeth?

The answer is yes!

A lot of parents tend to assume that because their child’s baby teeth are temporary, there’s no reason to be concerned with cavities and other dental issues. However, that assumption is incorrect.

Kids are susceptible to developing dental problems at any age. Cavities (also known as ‘tooth decay’) are the number one chronic health problem of children. This should be a major concern for parents because if left untreated, can result in the complete loss of your child’s tooth. Also, because cavities are a type of bacteria, it will spread and attack your child’s neighboring teeth.

How are cavities formed?

  • Poor oral hygiene by not brushing your teeth regularly
  • Plaque formation which is caused when bacteria, acid, food particles and saliva combine in your mouth and build up over time
  • Dry mouth by having little saliva or not keeping hydrated
  • Eating and drinking certain foods such as sugars and carbohydrates

Now there’s no need to panic – all of this can be treated and prevented! Keep reading to learn about some preventive measures such as fluoride treatment and brushing. Make an appointment for your child and prepare to talk to their dentist about any questions or concerns you might have!

First Dental Visit - When to Go?

Your Child’s First Dentist Appointment – When to Go?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), your child’s first dental visit should occur within six months after your baby’s first tooth appears but no later than your child’s first birthday.  

During this visit the dentist can show you how to clean your child’s teeth, discuss diet, fluoride needs and recommended oral care products.

As your child gets older, it can become a hassle to get them to go to the dentist’s office. Seeing all those different tools – including some that are sharp – and having to trust a stranger to work on their mouth can be scary.

While the appointment is necessary, your child’s fear doesn’t have to be. Here are a few ways to prepare your child for their first dentist appointment:

  • Talk to your child about the appointment beforehand
Watch how you describe the dentist appointment. Avoid words such as “drill”, “scrape” or “pull” – anything that can make your child anxious.
  • Read a book or watch a video about going to the dentist
  • Consider taking your child to your dentist appointment
If you are able to, this is a great way to introduce your child to the process. Speak to your dentist before your appointment to see what their policy is.
  • Set up a “meet and greet” with your child’s dentist before their first appointment
This will allow your child to get familiar with their dentist. The dentist can explain the procedure and make it less frightening.

While you and your child are at the dentist’s office, here is a great way to keep them entertained while they wait at their next appointment!

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Fluoride - Friend or Foe?

Do Children Need Fluoride for Dental Health?

Regular exposure to fluoride is beneficial to children's oral health. Some of the benefits that children will gain from fluoride are:

  • Fluoride helps the enamel (the protective layer of minerals on one's teeth) on children's teeth to be fortified to guard against tooth decay.
  • It protects teeth from "soft spots" (before they turn into cavities), cavities, decay and ultimately tooth loss.
  • Fluoride can also help build the base for strong permanent teeth, once they lose their baby teeth.

Where can children get fluoride?

There are several ways to ensure your child is getting enough exposure to fluoride. Some key ways to maintain that exposure are:

  • Children can use a toothpaste containing fluoride when they brush their teeth twice each day.
  • Many communities add fluoride to their water supply. If your community does not, you can ask the dentist or pediatrician for a fluoride tablet prescription.
  • Your child’s dentist can apply fluoride as a topical solution to protect the enamel layer of the teeth.

Is there such a thing as too much fluoride?

Many parents are concerned about children getting too much exposure to fluoride. Fluoride poisoning is unlikely and difficult to achieve. Drinking water with fluoride and getting yearly fluoride treatments from the dentist are great ways to keep your child's teeth at their healthiest. Look for a family dental plan that covers fluoride treatments for children.

Brush That Plaque Away!

Brushing Your Child’s Teeth

Brushing is said to be one of the most tedious activities for parents when dealing with their kids. With all that energy and desire to run and play, it can be hard to get your child to stay still! However, the American Dental Association (ADA) has some great tips on how to make brushing fun for you and your kids.

Have a Dance Party

  • Blast your child’s favorite song and brush to the beat! For four minutes a day (two in the morning and two at night) set a timer and dance along with your little one as they brush away.
  • Watching a video they can follow along to also helps them get into the groove.

Routine, routine, routine

  • After long days at school or miles away from responsibilities on vacation, sometimes it seems like it’d be easier to let your child skip a night of brushing. DON’T DO IT! Make brushing feel like second nature and instill a routine for them to follow.

Ding, ding, ding – you WIN

  • Everyone likes to be rewarded after doing mandatory activities – your child is no different! See what interests your child the most and reward them for their brushing skills:
    • If they’re a sticker collector – add a new one to their collection
    • If they like to read – let them pick out tonight's bed time story
    • If they’re into arts and crafts – let them decide what to make next
  • The best reward is to instill confidence in your child! Ask them to see their big healthy smile and say how proud you are of them.

Shop till you drop in teeth healthy products

  • Let your child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. When they pick it out for themselves, they will hopefully feel more attached to the activity.
  • Toothpastes come in a variety of yummy flavors and toothbrushes feature a lot of children’s favorite cartoon characters that will sure make brushing fun.

Story time

  • If your child doesn’t have a favorite cartoon character – make up your own. Your child can be their own superhero and brush those bad plaque guys away!

Brush together

  • Make it a family affair and brush together! Your child learns from you, so set a good example for them and show the positive effects of brushing.

Dental Plans - Which is the Best for You and Your Family?

Your child’s oral health is vital to maintaining their overall health. Enforcing healthy habits, educating your kids on the importance of their teeth and explaining the effect their teeth have on their health will greatly prepare them for the future!

With all these new tips and tricks to keep your child’s oral health in check, I’m sure you’re wondering – how do you cover all these expenses?

The answer is by getting a dental plan!

There are different options to choose from – such as DHMO, DMPO and PPO plans. Here at Solstice Benefits Inc., our individual plans offer coverage for kids’ and families!

Research and see what best fits you and your family’s needs

Have a fussy brusher at home? We can help with that!

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