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A Parent’s Guide to Optimal Oral Health Care for Kids 

As a parent, you always want what is best for your child. That’s the reason why you read them books at night and show up to parent-teacher conferences at school. In the same vein, taking your child to the dentist regularly and supporting good oral care habits will help your child stay as healthy as possible. What should every parent know about their child’s oral health?

When to Take Your Child to the Dentist

Unfortunately, many parents wait too long to start taking their children to the dentist. This can lead to many negative outcomes, including discomfort for the child and tooth decay that goes untreated. You should schedule your child’s first dentist appointment six months after their first tooth erupts. This visit is typically straightforward and fast, and it primarily involves taking a look at the baby’s mouth to spot potential abnormalities.

Visiting the dentist early also provides you with education on how to foster positive oral healthcare habits for your child and reduce the odds of requiring fillings or root canals. When your child continues to grow up, these visits will be just as critical to identify signs of gum disease or tooth decay, encourage independent oral care, and apply fluoride to prevent cavities.

How to Prepare Your Child for the Dentist

Some kids are scared about visiting the dentist, which is understandable, as they aren’t yet sure what to expect. There are a few ways to deal with this fear. First, you should inform your child that they will be going to the dentist. Make it clear that these visits are a natural part of growing up. If you have your own dental cleaning or a procedure coming up, it might be a good idea to bring your child with you to see that there is nothing to be afraid of.

It's critical to foster a positive attitude towards dental visits in your child, as this can affect them now and far in the future. Many adults who have a fear of the dentist developed it as a child, and the hesitance to visit as an adult can do permanent damage to their teeth and overall health. A great dentist will make your child feel relaxed and comfortable, as well as empowered to take care of their teeth.

How Can You Maintain Your Child’s Oral Health?

When you visit the dentist with your child, they will provide you with customized advice based on your child’s specific situation. There is no substitute for this professional, personalized advice. However, there are some more general tips that you can use to help maintain optimal oral health in your child:

- Once your child is one year old, you can start to use children’s toothpaste or non-fluoride toothpaste to brush their teeth. You can use a washcloth or a child’s toothbrush to clean the surface of each tooth.

- After your child is at least two years old, you can start to use a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Use a dab of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice and gently compress it into the bristles before brushing to reduce the odds of your child eating and swallowing the toothpaste.

- As your child develops more teeth and they start to touch, you will need to introduce flossing into their oral health care routine. Floss is the best way to remove small particles and pieces of debris that are stuck between the teeth.

- Monitor your child’s oral health for signs of gum disease. Many children and teenagers are at risk of developing periodontal disease, which can stick with them for the rest of their lives. Gums that are receding, swollen gums, and bleeding after flossing are some signs that there might be an issue.

Taking the time now to prevent future issues will keep your child healthy and confident thanks to their smile. Contact your pediatric dentist in Kansas City for more information.

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