Basics of Caring for Your Kids’ Teeth
Jenna Schulten, DMD, and owner of Dupont Pediatric Dentistry, teaches children how to brush.
Being proactive about your child’s dental hygiene at an early age is the key to preventing cavities, says Jenna Schulten, DMD and owner of Dupont Pediatric Dentistry. Based on guidelines from The American Academy of Pediatrics, children should start going to the dentist after their first birthday or first tooth eruption. Afterward, a child should visit the dentist every six months.
“We’ve had parents who bring their kids in for their first dental check-up at age 5 or 6. When we take X-rays of their teeth, we find a lot of decay, and the parents are shocked,” she says. Dr. Schulten also says parents should limit their child’s snacking to protect their teeth. “Now that everyone is home, it is important to watch for frequent snacking because it can keep food on the teeth longer and makes your child’s caries risk high.” Dr. Schulten gives all patients a caries risk assessment, which determines their likelihood for developing cavities.
In between dental visits, she suggests using fluoridated toothpaste. “You don’t need to use a lot of toothpaste. Children between the ages of 1 and 2 need a rice-sized amount of toothpaste, and children between the ages of 2 and 5 only need a pea-sized amount,” she says.
When selecting a toothbrush for your child, Dr. Schulten suggests choosing whatever works best for your child — whether it is a mechanical or manual toothbrush. “For younger kids, the head of the toothbrush needs to be smaller to fit in the back of the mouth. You should always use soft bristles to protect the gums.” Do not use mouthwash until your child learns how to spit.