The Perfect Road Map For Your Child’s Oral Health

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On July 3rd, 1806, two years into their journey to chart the uncharted west of America, pioneer explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reached a challenge of epic proportion – the Rocky Mountains. What next, they wondered? Without a map, they were forced to do what explorers do – explore, and hope for the best. So, that got us thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy map you could use to chart your own dental health? With that in mind, and in honor of our “Dog Days of Summer” explorers, we at Vienna Pediatric Dentistry wanted to share with you a few mile markers you can use to stay on top of your child’s health today, next year, and for years to come!

6 to 24 months

When you’re a new parent, life is a whirlwind, and the dental care of your newborn may not be top of mind when you look in their mouths and see no teeth! Here are some things to keep in mind:

Schedule a visit: As soon as that first tooth comes in, you’ll want to give us a call at 703-938-6600 to schedule a visit and set up a periodic exam schedule. Also, be aware the ADA recommends fluoridated toothpaste now for all children under the age of three. Don’t wait!

Ask us about:

  • Home hygiene basics:Things like, tips and tricks on brushing and other care. There’s nothing better than having our hygiene assistants give brushing tutorials – they’re experts!
  • Preventative dentistry: The possible need for fluoride supplements
  • Dietary strategies:Achieving a balanced diet early in life for good oral health later
  • Feeding practice awareness:Bottle, breastfeeding, and no-spill training cups
  • Non-nutritive oral habits:Thumb sucking, pacifiers

2 to 12 years old

Ah, the little ones are growing up. Teeth are coming in at all sorts of crazy angles, and you’re going crazy from the rise in obligations. Here’s a quick list of what to consider during this time frame:

  • Preventative dentistry:Pit and fissure sealants can do wonders for keeping your child’s dental bills down, and their teeth in their head until they’re ready to fall out naturally. Ask us about them. They’re affordable AND useful. And, super-fast, you’ll be in and out in no time.
  • Orthodontic Consultation:Visiting an orthodontist for an early consultation is best done around your child’s seventh birthday. With today’s technology, early intervention can reduce the cost and duration of braces when your child gets older.

The Teen Years

The years “everything” happens! As children start to come into their own, new habits and desires begin to unfold as well. You’ll have to address every imaginable concern during these years, from piercings, to calls for whitening, braces, and the need to refer yourself away from your pediatric dentist and to a general dentist for continuing oral care. So, speak with us about:

  • Cosmetic Dentistry:What solutions are advisable now, and what things should be avoided.
  • Teen social pressures: Smoking, alcohol, intraoral/perioral piercings and the like. Believe it or not, we can help a lot with this. Does your teen have a favorite Vienna Pediatric Dentistry hygiene assistant? We might be able to arrange for that person to help when your teen comes in so they can address these concerns with an intermediary they trust. Give us a call at 703-938-6600 to see how we can help!
  • Orthodontics:Options for minimizing appearance and health problems later in life.
  • Home hygiene tips:Brushing, flossing, choosing the right mouthwash.
  • Craniofacial injury prevention:With your children’s possible participation in sports, you’ll want to get them a mouthguard. Hands down it’ll be one of your best investments in a healthy mouth. And we make great ones at

Staying on top of your child’s oral health isn’t as hard as you think, and if you keep this schedule handy, you’ll be ahead of most of your neighbor’s kids when it comes to a healthy mouth and body. Come to think of it … why not share it with them as well? They’ll thank you for the help.

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Brushing & Flossing Chart

Wouldn’t it be nice if all children came with a manual? Any parent will tell you that you simply learn as you go and you try your best to love your kids as fiercely as possible and make some good decisions along the way. Being a parent is the greatest gift but it has its challenges. There are so many decisions to be made, diapers to be changed, clothes to fold, lunches to be packed, and the list goes on. It is simply impossible to do it all and keep track of every single little thing. As a mom of two kids under the age of 2, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s quite easy to forget that I need to brush my toddlers teeth twice a day and floss once a day. After getting some inspiration on Pinterest, a little work in Microsoft Word, and a 5X7 frame I was able to create the perfect checklist for myself that my toddler actually loves and looks forward to every morning and night! Click here for the brushing and flossing chart.

Materials:

  1. Printer and paper
  2. 5X7 frame
  3. Dry erase marker
  4. Flossers
  5. Toothpaste (see toothpaste tips below)
  6. Age appropriate toothbrush

Instructions:

  1. Print out the brushing and flossing chart PDF (see above)
  2. Cut the printout to match the size of your frame (5X7 is recommended)
  3. Use a dry erase marker to check off when you brush every morning and evening, and when you floss daily. Have your little one help you check the boxes, my little guy gets a kick out of it!
  4. Leave the frame in the bathroom or some place where you will see it every morning and night as to help remind you of this important task. It is also a great way to remind your child(ren) of this daily routine and to start forming the habit of brushing and flossing daily.
  5. Clean the frame off weekly so come Sunday morning you have a fresh start and you can use the chart over and over.

Here are some tips that I have found very helpful and I hope that they are just as helpful for you. Of course every child is different so while this may work for my household it may not work for yours and that’s okay! What I always suggest is that you just keep trying new ways to make it easier for you and your child(ren) and eventually you’ll find something that is perfect for you and your family.

Tips:

  1. First, I give my son his toothbrush and sit him in front of the mirror so he can “brush” his teeth by himself. Kids love their independence! I remind him that it’s his turn right now and then it will be mom’s turn to brush so I can make sure we get all of the sugar bugs. Once it’s my turn to brush we assume our brushing position (see tip #2)
  2. I lay my toddler on the floor with his back against the ground. I sit down on the floor with his head between my legs. I then place his arms under my legs. This may look like some type of WWE wrestling hold but I promise you it is safe for him and it also gives me the best angle to assure that I can brush his teeth really efficiently.
  3. While brushing his teeth I sing the following song to the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat: “Brush brush brush your teeth brush them every day, brush them and take care of them they’ll stay white that way!”
  4. Don’t forget to brush their tongue!
  5. Once we’re done brushing, I floss. Make sure to pay extra attention to the teeth that have tight contacts!
  6. My little guy is a little too young to know how to spit but it’s never too early to start practicing, especially if you’re using fluoridated toothpaste. I simply keep little cups next to our brushing and flossing chart and we practice spitting out the toothpaste every night.
  7. Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under one ,and a rice grain size of fluoridated tooth paste for children who can not spit on command thereafter. Check out our Pediatric Dental FAQs!

We hope this article helps make your mornings and evenings a little less chaotic and stressful. Being a parent isn’t easy, especially in this day and age with the critical social media and shaming that surrounds every picture we post and every decision we make. But we’re here to tell you that you’re doing a great job Mom and Dad. Keep up the good work!