Attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining good oral health. “Good oral health is a vital part of good overall health,” said James Curtis, DMD, chair of Palmetto Health-USC Dentistry. “Proper care, including regular dental check-ups and establishing healthy routines, are important.”
Dr. Curtis offers these tips to help you and your child learn how to keep teeth clean and healthy in all stages of life.
- Teach healthy habits. Good dental care is modeled behavior. Let your child see you caring for your teeth and gums on a frequent basis.
- Establish a dentist early on. The American Dental Association recommends the establishment of a relationship with a dentist by the child’s first birthday, and it is important for the child’s first experience going to the dentist to be a pleasant and positive one.
- Watch the sugary drinks. A child shouldn’t be sipping on juices, sweetened beverages or soft drinks for an extended period of time. Apple juice and other juices are very acidic and they contain natural sugar, which is harmful to tooth enamel. A child’s mouth and teeth should be cleaned after having milk or juice.
- Be diligent with young children’s teeth. A child of four or five does not have the motor skills necessary to brush properly and certainly cannot floss effectively. Parents need to be diligent in keeping their child’s mouth clean from six months to three years of age. This is when the primary teeth erupt.
- Teach flossing when they’re young. Most tweens go through a stage when taking care of their oral hygiene is not among their priorities. If a child has been exposed to the bacteria that cause dental decay, this is a time when the child is particularly susceptible to cavities. Be sure to introduce flossing at a young age. Children may require extra supervision and support during their grade school and middle school years.
“Throughout your child’s developing years, it is important to seek the advice of a dentist and instill good dental care practices. When they become adults with bright, healthy smiles, they will thank you for it,” said Curtis.
For more information about Palmetto Health-USC Dentistry or to request an appointment, call 803-434-6567 or visit PHUSCMG.org/Dentistry.