Encourage your child to brush his teeth at least twice a day -- once in the morning and again right before bed. Choose an age-appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste that features fluoride. According to the American Dental Association, children age 2 and older only require a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Show your child how to brush his teeth effectively. The Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends teaching your child to brush his teeth gently in a circular motion. Instruct your child to start at the back teeth and work his way toward the front. Your child should concentrate on the gum line, as this is where plaque tends to build.
Teach your child how to floss his teeth, rubbing the floss gently up and down and keeping it pressed against the tooth. Don't forget those back teeth! You may need to help your child get to those hard-to-reach areas. According to the ADA, children are ready to floss once they grow two teeth that touch. If you’re unsure how to floss, the ADA recommends asking a dentist or dental hygienist to demonstrate the proper procedure.
Schedule an appointment for your child with the dentist at least twice a year. The dentist can examine your child’s teeth to determine any problem areas, such as plaque buildup he’s missing.
Things You Will Need
- Toothpaste with fluoride
Encourage your child to concentrate more attention on the back teeth and molars, as according to WebMD, these are more prone to plaque buildup and cavities.
Start by giving your 3-year-old a big grin to illicit a return smile. With everyone showing their pearly whites, talk about how important teeth are for eating, talking and appearance. Wonder aloud for a moment what it would be like without teeth – talk about the yummy foods that people couldn’t eat if they didn’t have teeth.
Talk about taking a bath, washing hands and washing your face. Compare brushing teeth to these washing activities to illustrate how cleaning teeth is just as important as washing other parts of the body.
Discuss how germs can hide in the mouth and on teeth and what could happen if you don’t brush away the germs. Tell kids that if they don’t brush away germs from their teeth at least twice a day, that the germs could start making holes in teeth and making the mouth unhealthy. Mention dental floss, too, as another special tool that can help keep teeth clean.
Introduce the concept of a special helper – a dentist – who helps people keep their teeth clean and healthy. Tell kids that a dentist is a special doctor who knows exactly how to keep teeth healthy. Talk about going to the dentist, riding in a cool chair, opening the mouth super-wide and spitting into a special sink to get kids excited about visiting the dentist. Add a comment about how nice and friendly dentists are, too.
Encourage 3-year-olds to keep their teeth clean and healthy by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, avoiding sticky, sugary snacks and by being good brushers at least two times every day.
Keep the entire concept of oral hygiene positive and upbeat. At this age, kids should approach teeth and dentists positively to instill a lifelong prioritization of dental care.
Fortunately, gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, according to Boston Children's Hospital. Children may notice that their gums appear red, and tasks like brushing may be difficult because of tenderness and swelling. Bleeding may be common when your child attempts to brush or floss his teeth. However, some forms of gingivitis may cause no pain at all, while other forms of gingivitis may appear briefly with sudden pain.
The most common underlying factor in gingivitis in children is a lack of oral hygiene, according to the American Dental Association. Infrequent brushing and flossing can cause dental problems, along with a diet containing lots of sugary, processed foods. Some medications, along with conditions like diabetes, may also make children more susceptible to developing gingivitis. Children may also be born with a genetic predisposition to gingivitis. A dentist can help you and your child figure out the underlying causes of her gingivitis.
The best way to tackle gingivitis is to visit your dentist for a routine cleaning and check-up, according to the American Dental Association. Avoiding sugary or processed foods and drinks, brushing and flossing regularly and drinking plenty of water can prevent or reverse gingivitis, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Changing medications or managing underlying conditions causing gingivitis may also prove helpful. Brushing at least twice a day, or ideally after each meal, can stave off another gingivitis attack. Parents may want to supervise younger children to ensure they are brushing all teeth and not just the front teeth, according to KidsHealth.
Gingivitis is preventable and often reversible once it begins, but left untreated, it can progress into more severe damage that cannot be reversed. Ask your child's dentist about how he can prevent or reverse tooth and gum damage. Dental check-ups at least twice a year can help parents detect problems with a child's oral health.
Diseases and Medication
Some diseases affect the hard surface covering the teeth, which is called the enamel. Others affect the dentine, which is the material under the enamel. Salivary dysfunction that disrupts the part that saliva plays in removing food and other materials from teeth can cause dark spots on teeth. Sickle cell anaemia, leukaemia, cancer, diabetes, measles, chickenpox, strep infections and scarlet fever can cause discolouration of tooth enamel. Pregnant mothers with infections can affect the development of babies' tooth enamel, causing children's teeth to turn black when they come in. There are several hereditary diseases that can cause black teeth in children. Medications can also cause children's teeth to darken. Antibiotics such as tetracycline and antihistamines such as Benadryl can stain and darken a child's developing teeth. Pregnant mothers taking tetracycline can cause their children's teeth to blacken in the future.
Fluoride and Minerals
Fluoride protects teeth, but too much fluoride in the water or in toothpaste can darken children's teeth. Many children swallow toothpaste, and that can cause their teeth to turn black. Children under 3 should use toothpaste with no fluoride to avoid black teeth. Minerals from well water can also darken developing teeth, especially when the children have a disease that prevents protective tooth enamel from forming. Buying nursery water and using it for baby bottles, food preparation, drinking and teeth brushing can prevent black teeth caused by well water. Proper dental hygiene should be used as soon as a child gets a tooth. Teeth should be brushed on every surface using a circular motion for 2 to 4 minutes, and flossing between teeth is important.
Teeth Whitening Defined
Teeth whitening is a dental procedure that helps remove stains from the surface of the teeth so they look brighter and whiter. Bleaching is one way that this goal is achieved. In-office bleaching is done at your dentist's office and requires the dentist to apply a bleaching agent to your daughter's teeth and then use a special kind of light to activate the bleach and make the teeth whiter, according to the American Dental Association. Your daughter might also be interested in an at-home bleaching procedure, which is cheaper. At-home products use a lower concentration of a bleaching agent without the use of a light.
At-home bleaching procedures can pose a risk because your daughter might apply too much of the chemical, and the chemical could also get onto her gums, tongue and other parts of her mouth. Tooth sensitivity and gum irritation are common side effects of these procedures, according to the American Dental Association. These side effects can also occur with in-office bleaching procedures. Another risk that's specific to teens is uneven color on the teeth. "USA Today" notes that a teen's teeth are still growing and emerging, and performing a whitening procedure on teeth that haven't fully emerged can leave a section of the tooth a darker color than the treated section.
When performed correctly, bleaching procedures are usually safe for teens. To play it safe, a dentist should perform the procedure or give your daughter explicit instructions about using a home treatment. Avoid businesses that don't have trained dental professionals performing the bleaching procedures. For example, large malls sometimes offer whitening stations in the corridors between stores, but they might not staff people who have been well-trained in proper application of the bleaching agents.
If your daughter's teeth are still coming in, consider putting off a bleaching procedure until her smile is complete. She might be happy with other alternatives to help keep her teeth white and sparkly in the meantime. Encourage her to use whitening toothpaste, which can remove surface stains. Look for a whitening toothpaste that has been endorsed by the American Dental Association, which is listed on the label, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation recommends. Remind your daughter to brush and floss regularly, which helps keep her teeth white and her mouth healthy.