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Care for Your Child’s Teeth

There are two major components of pediatric oral care: home preventative care and preventative care at the pediatric dentist’s office. Though there have been more cases of cavities and tooth decay in infants and toddlers in recent years, a good dental strategy eliminates both risks.

Preventative oral care aims to monitor and preserve the teeth of the child. From the age of 12 months, the ADA recommends that children start visiting the pediatric dentist for “well baby” checkups. Generally, children should keep visiting the dentist every six months, unless otherwise instructed.

How can a pediatric dentist care for my child’s teeth?

The pediatric dentist checks the teeth to see if there are early signs of decay, tracks tooth and jaw development, monitors orthodontic concerns, and provides parents with a good resource. Also, the pediatric dentist is equipped with tools to reduce the risk of dental issues such as dental sealants and topical fluoride.

When the child is on a routine visit to the dentist: the mouth of the child is thoroughly examined; the teeth professionally cleaned; the teeth might get coated with topical fluoride to protect tooth enamel, and any concerns of parents can be addressed. Sometimes the pediatric dentist demonstrates proper flossing and brushing techniques, gives parental advice on dietary issues, offers strategies for pacifier cessation and thumb sucking, and communicates with the child in a friendly tone.

When molar appears around the ages of two and three, the pediatric dentist may choose to coat them using a dental sealant. This sealant helps to cover fissures on the molar that are out of reach, sealing out acid, food particles, and bacteria. Depending on the child’s oral habit, a dental sealant is capable of lasting many years. A dental sealant is a great solution for alleviating tooth decay.

How can I help at home?

Though flossing and brushing are the first things that lots of parents think of when they come across the words “oral care,” good preventative care consists of lots of factors, such as:

Diet – nourishing, balanced diet should be provided by parents. Continuous snacking should be discouraged and they should modify foods that are too sugary. Oral bacteria feed on sugar particles trapped in the child’s after a meal, emitting acids that can erode tooth enamel, bone, and gum tissue. Limit the intake of snacks, and make available non-sugary alternatives such as low-fat yogurt, carrot sticks, and celery sticks.

Oral habits – though thumb sucking and pacifier use stop over time, both can result in misalignment of the teeth. Go with an “orthodontically” correct model, if the child must use a pacifier, as it reduces the risk of developmental issues like crowding and narrow roof arches. The pediatric dentist can provide dental appliance or recommend a strategy for thumb sucking cessation.

General oral hygiene – parents sometimes clean teeth toys and pacifiers by sucking on them. Parents may also use the child’s eating utensils. When parents do these things, they increase the risk of early tooth decay and cavities by transferring dangerous bacteria to the child. Instead, toys should be rinsed with warm water, and limit the sharing of spoons as much as possible.

Sippy cup use – Sippy cups are a great solution when making the switch from a baby bottle to an adult drinking glass. However, Sippy cups filled with sweetened water, soda, milk, juice, and breast milk can cause some amount of sugar to stick around your teeth – resulting in a continuous acid attack on tooth enamel.

Brushing – you should brush children’s teeth at least twice daily using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and a soft bristled brush. Parents should assist the child in brushing until the age of seven. Parents should only use toothpastes that are ADA approved. For babies, parents should use a clean cloth to rub the gum after each feeding session.

Flossing – tooth decay and cavities for easily between teeth, which means that the child is at risk of between-teeth cavities when two teeth are positioned adjacent to each other. The pediatric dentists can demonstrate and suggest how to floss correctly.

Fluoride – fluoride prevents the loss of minerals and also aids the remineralization of tooth enamel. Excessive fluoride can lead to fluorosis, a condition characterized by the appearance of white specs on the permanent teeth, and too little can cause tooth decay. It is critical to get the right balance of fluoride. The pediatric dentist can check the amount the child correctly gets and recommend supplements if necessary.

For questions about caring your child, please consult your pediatric dentist.

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