What should I be doing for my child's dental health?

I know it’s important for my kids to floss their teeth, but when should they start?

Parents often ask me about flossing. I feel it is one of the most important aspects of keeping kids’ teeth healthy, even their baby teeth. So I recommend starting a flossing regimen when your child’s baby teeth are touching each other, because food gets lodged between the teeth. For some children the first baby teeth come in with spaces between the teeth but as more and more teeth come in they begin to fill your child’s mouth.

Do baby teeth get cavities? If so, do they need to be filled? After all, they are not my child’s permanent teeth.

All cavities, even baby teeth, need to be taken care of. Cavities left alone can lead to abscesses in your child mouth. I have seen children as young as four years old with abscesses. To prevent this from occurring take your child to the dentist when they are young. I suggest bringing them in to the office when they are two or three years old for their first visit.

When should I take my child for his first dental visit?

Some professional groups suggest taking your child to the dentist when their first tooth appears. I recommend coming to my office when your child is 2 or 2-1/2 years old. They can sit comfortably in our dental chair and can respond to questions I ask them. I want this first visit to be non-traumatizing so they will look forward to coming back. I will examine their teeth and, if they let me, clean the teeth as well. It is important to have your child see the dentist twice a year.

If I have bad teeth will my children have similar problems?

It is true that many dental problems are inherited, but we know that some simple routines can help prevent your child from having bad teeth or gum problems.

I am sure you have been told that it’s important for kids to eat healthy, and brush and floss their teeth. So I won’t repeat that. But here are five simple things you can do to make a difference:

1. After eating, even at school, encourage your kids to drink water, or even rinse lightly with water. This helps get rid of food pieces left on their teeth or in their mouth.

2. Stop kids from eating raisins…or anything sticky or sugary. Sugary pieces tend to stick to the teeth and cause cavities. By the way, don’t give your kids gummy bears…even gummy vitamins for the same reason.

3. Chewing sugarless gum does help promote healthy teeth. Chewing stimulates the creation of saliva which helps clean the teeth and the gum assists in removing deposits on the teeth. Just as long as your children are not swallowing the gum.

4. If your child has been sick, change their toothbrushes. Germs from your kids transfer to the brushes.

5. And last and maybe most important, spend a minute or two checking your child’s mouth after they brush their teeth. A quick glance will tell you how well they brushed and, in the long run, it will help prevent cavities from forming.

Susan Paunovic, DDS

Newburgh office

Fishkill office