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Oral Hygiene Tips for Children (Ages 0–9)

Grand Rapids MI pediatric dentist oral hygiene tips children

Grand Rapids pediatric dentist oral hygiene tips children

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 each stage of your life. Don’t worry though, our Grand Rapids dentists will help you along the way as you move through every phase.

In our Oral Hygiene Tips blog series, we’re looking at the kinds of oral health issues you should expect and the habits you should practice at certain ages to avoid said issues.

For our first blog, here are some oral health risks and hygiene tips for children.

Top Oral Health Risks for Children

The two most prevalent health risks for young children under the age of 9 are cavities and common dental emergencies. While cavities are preventable, the same can’t always be said for an emergency.

Fortunately, whether your little one needs a filling, urgent dental care, or a professional cleaning, our dentists are here for your family.

1. Cavities

Approximately 42% 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. It’s important 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 and even pediatric dental crowns for children with cavities can help stop tooth decay and prevent gum disease.

2. Dental Emergencies

Childhood is inevitably 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? Are you confident you could identify an oral emergency?

For reference, common dental emergencies for children include:

  • Knocked-out tooth
  • Cracked tooth
  • Tongue or lip bite that won’t stop bleeding
  • Severe toothaches
  • Object stuck in teeth

Generally, if your child’s injury presents an immediate threat to their health (e.g., a broken tooth with jagged edges), you should see our Grand Rapids 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 proceed with scheduling a regular appointment with our 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 ER first.

Good Oral Hygiene Habits for Children

The best way to protect against dental emergencies and cavities is to help your child practice good oral hygiene habits at home. For those aged 0–9, our dentists focus on:

  • Proper brushing technique: Even before your child has teeth, you should wipe their gums regularly with a gentle washcloth. Once their teeth start coming in, start brushing. Your child can brush their teeth (with your supervision) as soon as they can hold a toothbrush and spit on their own. It’s recommended they brush at least twice a day and floss once daily.
  • Fluoride treatments:Fluoride 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 Grand Rapids dental office to protect your child’s teeth as well.
  • Dental sealants: Our dentists can use dental sealants to protect your child’s first and second molars from cavities. As soon as these emerge, we’ll painlessly paint a sealant onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to keep food debris and bacteria out, thus preventing tooth decay.
  • Proper eating habits: It’s never too early to teach your child that sugary foods and drinks can lead to cavities, especially if consumed in excess. Help your child establish healthy eating habits to protect their oral and 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 more serious problems. Additionally, between the ages of 7 and 9, you’ll typically want to schedule your child’s first orthodontic visit so they can be evaluated for treatment.

Keep Your Child’s Oral Health on Track

Our dentists in Grand Rapids, MI, 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. Call Contemporary Family Dental today at (616) 209-3969 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

This blog post has been updated.