No parent wants to see their child suffering from the pain of a toothache. Besides making a young child miserable and uncomfortable, a toothache can indicate a more serious dental problem. As explained by the American Academy of Pediatrics on their HealthyChildren.org blog, a childhood toothache might be more than just a stuck piece of food. It may indicate tooth decay, cracked enamel, gum disease or a dental abscess. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend these 5 tips to prevent toothaches.
1) Teach Proper Brushing
Good dental hygiene begins at birth. Clean your baby’s teeth with a soft-bristled infant’s toothbrush at least once a day before bedtime. Start with a tiny bit of toothpaste, as soon as their teeth begin to pop out. Use toothpaste that has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA), as these will contain fluoride, an important mineral for preventing tooth decay. Increase the amount of toothpaste to “pea-sized” for kids aged 3 to 6 and brush their teeth or assist them, showing them how it’s done. Make sure they spit out the toothpaste and don’t swallow it! Children who are 9 or 10 years old have many of their permanent teeth, so an adult toothbrush can be used. Teeth should be brushed within 5 to 10 minutes after eating.
2) Practice Regular Flossing
For gum health and to remove stuck food particles, teach kids to floss regularly, once a day. This will help to prevent periodontal (gum) disease when they get older. Starting early, they’ll soon learn that they’ll be more comfortable without food stuck between their teeth!
3) Prevent Cavities with a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet, like good dental hygiene, begins at birth. At night, avoid nursing babies to sleep with anything other than pure water, and only use water in their bedtime bottle. Any baby formula or juice may contain sugars can cause bacteria to form. Make sure your child eats a balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products for healthy teeth and bones. Limiting sugar and starch will help protect their teeth and reduce the chance of cavities.
4) Protect Teeth During Sports and Other Vigorous Activities
By using mouthguards and helmets during children’s sports and other rambunctious play, you can minimize the chance of dental injury that can result in a chipped or broken tooth, in addition to a toothache. Also, teach children how to safely use scissors so they don’t use their teeth to open food packages and other items.
5) Visit Your Pediatric Dentist Regularly
How often should you take your child for a dental checkup? A visit to the dentist should start as soon as their first tooth makes its appearance and certainly no later than their first birthday. They should visit the dentist every 6 months to have their teeth and gums professionally cleaned and examined. Regular visits to the dentist helps prevent cavities, toothaches and other dental issues. A pediatric dentist specializes in providing oral care for infants and children.