23 Jul Dental Concerns by Children’s Ages and Stages
If you’ve been reading our advice on our blog or social media, you know that lifelong dental health begins before most of us can say the word toothbrush. Each stage of life brings changes to our bodies and our lifestyles that impact dental health. We’ve put together this quick list of dental concerns for each stage of childhood to help parents and guardians give their children the best start to a lifetime of great dental health.
Infancy to 2 years
When most of us think about dental problems in infants we immediately think of teething. Teething is a natural and necessary process, therefore, it’s not the teething itself that causes concern but rather figuring out how to treat the frustrating symptoms that accompany it.
The major concern is caring for the teeth developing and erupting beneath the gumline. Tooth decay can occur as soon as the teeth begin erupting if infants are exposed to poor dental choices like dipping pacifiers in honey or sugar and serving juice and sweetened milk in bottles. You can prevent these issues in your baby by refraining from these choices.
It’s never too early to start good dental habits. Wipe your child’s gums with a damp cloth after feedings to remove leftover milk and begin brushing their teeth and gums with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts. If they want a drink other than milk at this stage, give them plain water and say no to sugary baby snacks. You’ll not only help reduce their chances of tooth decay, but you’ll also be teaching them healthy dietary habits from an early age.
2 to 5 years
By age three, most if not all of your child’s baby teeth have erupted. Three years is also the age that habits like thumb-sucking or using a pacifier are put away naturally by your child. Some believe thumbsucking is a bad habit that must be stopped as soon as possible, but it’s actually a natural instinct developed in the womb to train infants for feeding. Most kids will stop on their own by age 3, but if they continue to suck their thumbs past the age of 4, natural correction becomes less likely. Talk with your family dentist to learn how to encourage correction of this problem.
During this stage of life, your preschooler is still too young to brush their teeth on their own. Make sure you’re brushing with a fluoride toothpaste every morning and night. You should be teaching them how to properly brush and spit out toothpaste during this time to prepare them for brushing without help. You should also begin flossing your child’s teeth when the teeth begin touching.
6 to 11 Years
We’ll call this the tooth fairy stage! During this period, your child will begin losing their baby teeth to make room for permanent teeth. You should continue helping your child brush and floss their teeth until at least age seven because they don’t usually have the motor skills for proper cleaning before this point. Brush along with your kids so they can learn good dental hygiene practice directly from you. You’ll also want to have your dentist apply dental sealants to your child’s molars to help prevent future decay.
Kids become much more active during this stage of life and dental injuries are more likely to occur. If your child plays sports or participates in physical activities, make sure they have a mouthguard. During the latter years of this stage, malocclusion and the need for orthodontic intervention will become more obvious if the problem is present.
Some dental concerns in children are preventable while others may not be avoidable due to genetics and other factors. But you can help your children have the best dental health possible by practicing good dental habits with them from the beginning and bringing them to the dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning appointments. The good news is, it’s never too late to start taking better care of your children’s teeth and gums and implementing healthier habits in your family that promote better dental health.
Has it been a while since your child visited the dentist? Request a checkup now right here on our website.