“Do I really need to brush my child’s tooth? He only has one.” “Should I allow my kids to have the lollipops that the tellers at the bank give to them?” “How can I help my first grader learn to floss her own teeth?”

Parents of young children have plenty of questions about oral health care. They certainly want to prevent cavities, but aren’t sure of the best approach. Dr. Dean Dietrich of Pleasant Dental has been helping parents in the Dolton, Riverdale and Chicago, IL areas learn what they need to know about proper oral health care for children.

Dentists recommend running a damp cloth over the gums before the teeth even erupt. This removes harmful bacteria from the mouth and helps parents get into the habit of making oral health care a priority. Once the tooth erupts, parents can use an infant toothbrush with a very tiny amount of toothpaste and water. Once the child is old enough to spit, dentists recommend using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Whether parents are directed to use fluoride toothpaste depends largely on your unique situation and whether fluoride is added to the water source.

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Children should also begin visiting the dentist at an early age. Not only does this help the child become comfortable with the dentist, his team, and the office, it also ensures that any early problems are spotted quickly. For most children these visits, in conjunction with brushing and flossing at home, are good steps to help prevent cavities from erupting. If a child appears to be at risk for cavities, the dentist may apply fluoride to harden the enamel and prevent cavities from forming.

As the child ages and his permanent teeth begin to grow, dentists can also “seal” the teeth. Most of the time this treatment is applied to the back teeth, where most chewing occurs and where it’s hardest to reach with a toothbrush. Sealing keeps bacteria from getting into the enamel of the tooth. It’s important to note that fluoride and sealants alone will not prevent cavities, the first step is proper brushing and flossing in order to remove food particles from the teeth.

If a trouble spot is identified in your child’s early childhood years, treatment will depend on your dentist and your child’s unique situation. Some dentists will simply watch the area and make sure it doesn’t get worse. Other times, or if the cavity is already deep into the tooth, it will need to be filled. Dr. Dietrich is skilled at treating children with gentle and respectful care. He and his team work carefully and cautiously to ensure that children feel safe and at ease during their treatment.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child, call the Pleasant Dental office today.

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