You might not think much about your child’s dental health before they teethe. But their gums are essential. If your toddler has less oral bacteria before their teeth emerge, they’ll less likely get tooth decay on their primary teeth. And if you focus on their gums early, you cut the risk of your toddler getting gum disease. What, then, are the ways to get your toddler healthy gums?
Nothing beats a solid dental foundation. Accordingly, the best ways to give your toddler healthy gums is to build on this foundation. With the right combination of regular cleaning, diet, and visits to the pediatric dentist, your kid’s gums will be healthy as can be. And here are six ways to do it:
- Bring your toddler to a pediatric dentist
Bringing your child to the dentist as early as possible is important. We can’t stress this enough. During their appointment, the pediatric dentist will detect whether something’s afoot you’re your child’s gums, even if their teeth haven’t emerged yet. The dentist can then prescribe the next course of action based on their findings. You can use this prescription to supplement your kid’s current dental hygiene routine or build it from the ground up. Regardless, it’s a great way to give your toddler preventive treatment and directly address any potential concerns before they blow up.
- Clean their gums regularly
While saliva washes away any stray food particles left in the mouth, it needs a little help now and then. Cleaning your child’s gums twice a day after feeding boosts not only your mouth’s cleanliness but also removes any sugars oral bacteria could feed on. If you do this before your baby’s teeth come out, it also helps protect primary teeth from those initial acid attacks.
- Massage their gums
Massaging your child’s gums while they’re teething helps ease the pains that come with the process. But gum massage doesn’t have to be limited to teething toddlers. Massaging their gums before and after their teeth come out helps stimulate blood flow. This stimulation helps keep their gums firm and healthy.
- Cut down sugary drinks
Diet matters as much as your hygiene routine when it comes to dental health. Because sugar plays a significant role in promoting plaque buildup, limiting it in your child’s diet can prevent potential periodontal diseases from arising as they grow up.
- Watch what they eat
What your child eats is more important than what they don’t eat. Aside from restricting bacteria-friendly food, another way to ensure your toddler gets healthy gums is feeding them healthy food for their teeth. Apart from promoting their gum health, your toddler might even develop a preference for them over time.
- Use a bit of fluoride
Very young children typically don’t need fluoride just yet. But once they’re old enough for it, it’s best to introduce them to fluoride as soon as possible. Fluoride strengthens your teeth against plaque buildup, making it less likely for bacteria to form pockets within your gums and cause periodontal disease. Introducing your children to fluoride early, then, protects them from developing such diseases first.
Does Fluoride Harm Your Toddlers?
Why shouldn’t you give your toddlers fluoride? Some say they don’t really need it. Babies don’t have teeth. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth by bonding with the other minerals in them. So there’s not much it can do to help your child’s oral health. But is fluoride necessarily bad for your toddlers?
This renewed interest in the benefits of fluoride came from the American Dental Association’s (ADA) decision to change the guidelines on introducing fluoride to children. Initially, the ADA suggested waiting until the child was two years of age before introducing fluoride toothpaste to their routine. Some time ago, however, it changed its recommendation to using a bit of fluoride toothpaste once the child began to show teeth.
Surely, then, fluoride must be safe enough for toddlers for the ADA to lower the age of exposure. If fluoride is bad for toddlers, it would’ve been better to stave them off fluoride altogether. That said, why should you give your toddlers fluoride? Here are some reasons:
Fluoride prevents early emergence of cavities
Among young children, cavities are one of the most common illnesses. We’ve noted in a previous article that these caries outrank asthma when it comes to childhood chronic diseases. In recent years, these incidences have begun to increase among pre-school children. And among these schoolchildren, some of them required general anesthesia to clear up the cavities in their milk teeth.
Preventing these problems from worsening or occurring then becomes a priority. Introducing fluoride earlier might provide the needed prevention.
There is, however, still the risk that comes with too much fluoride exposure. Dental fluorosis happens when you take in too much fluoride. The affected teeth become disfigured due to hyper-mineralization. Parents are then encouraged to teach their kids to spit the toothpaste out after application.
Fluoride wards off future dental problems
Toddlers lacking the proper amount of fluoride in their system are usually at a higher risk of tooth decay. This risk also predisposes them to other oral issues aside from cavities. These problems include a slew of periodontal diseases and pulp infections.
Dental diseases usually develop by way of plaque buildup. If left untreated, it can cave in certain areas of your teeth and create pockets within your gums. By binding to other teeth minerals, then, fluoride makes it harder for the bacteria in plaque buildup to penetrate your youngster’s teeth and gums.
Introducing them to fluoride early gives your toddler a needed head start. If you protect their teeth from the onset, this reduces the amount of plaque they’ll accumulate throughout their childhood. Because they accumulate less plaque, they’re less susceptible to tooth decay. It makes them less vulnerable to cavities and other oral diseases. And if they learn how to spit out their toothpaste after brushing their teeth, they’re also less likely to contract fluorosis.
Of course, one shouldn’t rely on fluoride alone. There are other things to consider, like how many times your toddlers brush their teeth or whether they eat tooth-friendly food. Regardless, it’s good to know that fluoride isn’t harmful to your toddlers. It gives them the push they need against cavities.