Preschool years are ones of adventure with hopefully few dental problems. Establishing a good relationship with a dentist in the early years is the foundation of healthy teeth for life.
Children need to have their teeth cleaned twice a day to establish a good pattern leading them into adulthood. A good routine can be to let your child clean their teeth in the morning and you help them at night. Children don't have the fine motor skills needed to use a toothbrush like an adult until they are about 8 years old. Fluoride toothpaste is an important means of protecting teeth. For preschoolers a reduced fluoride toothpaste is recommended. Children can't properly spit out toothpaste until they're about 6 years old.
Health diet, health teeth
Preschool children often "graze". That is, they drink and eat as they feel the need. Beware of sweet snack foods and sweet drinks. Even drinks with "no added sugar" can be harmful.
- Healthy alternatives: Stick to fruit and vegetables - apples, oranges, pears, celery, carrots etc. are a healthy and fun alternative. Peanut butter, cheese, yoghurts, pita breads and popcorn can also be great snacks.
- Drinks: Water and milk are good for your teeth. Water makes up 70% of your body weight so you need to replenish it regularly. Milk provides a good source of calcium for healthy growing bodies.
- Avoid: Honey, dried fruit,sweet biscuits, jam, cakes, high-energy snacks and check out the sugar content of your breakfast cereals!
First dental visit
Regular dental visits can prevent minor problems developing into major hassles. .
- A dental visit should be a fun visit with "ride" in the dental chair.(best before any treatment is needed)
- If you suspect that your child has a problem that will require treatment, avoid using words such as "drill and needle".
- Play dentist with your child at home. Get your child to lie on a bed so you can get a good look at their teeth and they get used to lying down while their teeth are checked.
- Make dental visits at a time when your child is unlikely to be tired or hungry.
Preschool children may knock, chip or dislodge a tooth in the adventures of life. If your child does damage their baby teeth in any way it's important to see your dentist. If a baby tooth is lost or moved don't attempt to straighten it or replace it. As the permanent tooth may be located quite close to the baby tooth it's important that any action taken doesn't affect the permanent tooth. See: Trauma
Often baby teeth that are knocked out at an early age are slow to be replaced. It's thought that this is because the gum where the tooth is missing becomes "harder" and the new tooth has more difficulty pushing through.
Caries (or holes in the teeth)
Foods that stay in your mouth for long periods of time, such as sucking on hard lollies or sipping juice, give the bacteria (plaque) in your mouth more time to produce acid that causes tooth decay.
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