Visiting a Pediatric Dentist Is Essential to Keeping Your Child's Teeth Healthy

Keeping a child's teeth clean (even baby teeth) is vital to improving his or her overall health and ensuring proper growth and development. Encouraging healthy habits, such as regular brushing and flossing, as well as proper nutrition, will go a long way in keeping a child's teeth healthy. Beyond day-to-day care, scheduling regular visits to a pediatric dentist is essential in preventing infection, disease, and identifying any potential problems in a child's mouth. Following these three essential steps will help to keep a child's teeth healthy.

1. Regular Brushing and Flossing

For adults, regular brushing and flossing might seem like a no-brainer, but for many kids, brushing and flossing can seem like a chore that they would rather avoid. To help introduce a child to regular brushing, it is best to start when he or she is two years old. Early on, take care to only use a small amount of toothpaste (about an eighth of what an adult would typically use). As many young children will swallow toothpaste and not spit it out, it's best to use a fluoride-free toothpaste until a child is old enough to stop swallowing it. At some point, kids will want to brush their own teeth – it's okay to let them, but be sure to give their teeth an extra brush once they've had their turn. Most children won't get into the habit of regularly giving their teeth a proper brush until age 8 or 9.

It is best to start to start flossing between a child's teeth as soon as his or her teeth touch each other. Floss once a day or as needed with either regular string floss or plastic floss picks. Eventually, repeated proper instruction will enable kids to start flossing on their own. Let them try a few times under supervision, and be sure to reward them for a job well done to encourage continued thorough flossing.

2. Proper Nutrition

Maintaining proper nutrition for a child is vital in keeping his or her teeth healthy and preventing decay. Frequent snacking of unhealthy foods can increase a child's risk of tooth decay. Foods high in sugar can cause cavities if they are left on a child's teeth for too long. Bacteria eat the sugar left on teeth and create acid, which dissolves enamel. To avoid this, try to limit a child's intake of sugar-high foods and lengthen the intervals between snacks.

3. Routine Visits to A Pediatric Dentist

In order to ensure that a child's teeth remain healthy and develop properly, it is essential to schedule routine visits to a trusted pediatric dentist. Pediatric dental professionals can find and treat early signs and symptoms of infection and structural abnormalities and can provide parents with further information on proper tooth care for their children. Pediatric dental professionals can also provide information and advice on early orthodontics as needed.

Following these three steps will ensure your children are on the right track for proper oral health.

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Cough Medicine and Your Child's Teeth

It's the middle of winter which means it's peak cold and flu season. No matter how hard you try to protect your kids from these annual illnesses, they still seem to somehow catch them. While having a child with a cold instead of the flu is less of a headache and concern, the discomfort experienced by your child from the uncomfortable symptoms of congestion, coughing, running nose and sore throat can temporarily make your child's life nonetheless miserable.

You want to reduce and shorten the duration of your child's cold symptoms. Some of the first things you grab from your arsenal are cough syrup and throat lozenges. While your child may not like the taste of the cough syrup, he or she has no problem with the throat lozenge. Even if these medications don't immediately soothe the coughing and sore throat symptoms, at least the lozenges have a tolerable taste and are reminiscent of hard candy. It is typical that sore throat symptoms get worse in the evening before bed time and you don't think twice about letting your child suck on a lozenge as they drift off to sleep (granted your child is old enough and won't choke on the lozenge).

The Effects of Cough Medicine on Teeth

While you and your child are hopefully fast asleep, little do either of you know what is going inside your child's mouth as he or she sucks on a lozenge.

Though both cough syrup and throat lozenges contain medicine to help treat and soothe their respective cold symptoms, both contain high levels of sugar. Lozenges are the worst of the two as they slowly break down inside the mouth instead of getting swallowed in one little gulp.

Throat lozenges, also commonly called cough drops are similar to hard candy in how they can increase one's risk of tooth decay. It is not advisable for children to regularly consume hard candies just like the intake of stick candy should be limited. Hard candies and throat lozenges have an unique way of causing potential damage to one's teeth because of their slow to dissolve nature.

Cavities are formed when debris and sugar accumulate on the surface of the teeth. The enzymes in saliva interacts with the sugar and bacteria to produce a film that creates plaque and eats away at the tooth enamel. The damage of this reaction on one's teeth will be less if the teeth are promptly brushed or the mouth is rinsed with water. Since throat lozenges take time to fully dissolve and they are often taken at night as the child is going to bed, the sugars of the lozenges have all night to harden into plaque and eat away at the layers of tooth enamel.

Cough syrup and the sugar that is in it can also damage teeth if the teeth aren't brushed and the mouth rinsed out. Many times cough syrup is taken after children brush their teeth. To lower the risk of damage to your child's …