As many as half of kids ages 2-8 have cavities in their baby teeth, and about 17% of preteens have decay in their adult teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. That’s a lot of cavities — and a lot of discomfort — most of which could be avoided through better oral health habits.
As a parent, you’re in the important — and often nerve-racking — position of helping your child establish habits that can keep them healthy for the rest of their life. For oral health, that begins by focusing on a few key issues that have a big impact on your child’s teeth and gums.
A top-rated family dentist in Novi, Michigan, Abir Faraj, DDS, helps kids at Novi Family Dentistry learn healthy habits while giving parents a helping hand, too. Here are four things she wants you to know about the importance of pediatric dental care for your child.
1. Baby teeth are important
Many people think that since baby teeth eventually fall out, there’s no need to worry about dental care until adult teeth emerge. However, baby teeth are very important! This is because until they fall out, they serve as “placeholders” for the adult teeth that are forming under the gums.
If your child loses a baby tooth too soon, it can result in alignment problems or even expose the developing tooth to infection. On top of that, even though baby tooth roots aren’t as long as adult tooth roots, a cavity can still cause a lot of pain.
2. Regular dental visits are essential
Few kids actually look forward to visiting the dentist, and for some parents, it can be very tempting to put off a visit until their child has a toothache or other symptom. But regular dental visits are important for preventing those problems, which means your child can have a more pleasant experience (and so can you).
Early intervention can also help Dr. Faraj catch problems early, when treatments are typically simpler and less costly. Plus, taking your child to the dentist twice a year will help establish a routine. This, in turn, can help them have a lifetime of dental care and healthy teeth and gums.
Seeing Dr. Faraj regularly also ensures your child gets appropriate care for their developing needs. That includes checking for potential alignment issues or impacted teeth, applying protective sealants and fluoride treatments, and fitting your child for a mouth guard when they play sports.
3. Brushing and flossing are learned skills
That might seem obvious, but it’s easy to feel like once you’ve introduced your child to these essential habits, they’ll be fine on their own. That’s not always the case.
In fact, plenty of kids need help with their brushing and flossing techniques, and as a parent, it’s a good idea to monitor your child’s brushing — at least before bed — to make sure they’re doing a good job at keeping their teeth clean. Establishing these habits early is the best way to ensure your child sticks with them all the way through their adult years.
4. Eating and drinking habits count, too
Brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups all play important roles in maintaining your child’s oral health. But you also need to keep an eye on the foods and beverages they consume.
Everybody knows sugary snacks increase the risk of developing cavities, but what a lot of parents don’t realize is that there are snacks that can actually help improve their child’s oral health. For example, dairy products, such as cheese, contain lots of calcium, which can help strengthen teeth. Plus, these products can stimulate saliva production, which can help keep cavities at bay.
Also, if your child plays sports, skip the sports drinks that typically contain a lot of sugar and erosive acids. Stick to water instead. And swap out sticky snacks and opt for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Help your kids develop habits that last a lifetime
As a parent, you’re a powerful role model for your child. By taking time to explain the importance of oral health — and by letting your child see you practice good oral hygiene — you can help your child embrace positive habits that follow them throughout their lives.
To learn how we can help you give your child a lifetime of healthy smiles, call 313-646-7903 or book an appointment online at Novi Family Dentistry today.