From the time our kids are born, they put anything and everything into their mouths. We expect this as parents. The thing we don’t always expect is the tantrums and outright refusal that comes with parents needing to look inside their child’s mouth. Our fingers get bitten and we become conditioned to just leave their faces and mouths alone. You may feel frustration with all-out war at bedtime just trying to get your kids to brush their teeth.
Although it may be frustrating, you must keep trying to instill good oral hygiene practices in your children. Just because baby teeth will fall out eventually, doesn’t mean that they can be ignored. There can still be major problems such as cavities, gingivitis, halitosis, and many other health issues that can arise when baby teeth aren’t well taken care of.
If you’re stressing out, racking your brain to come up with a way to check out your child’s mouth for a quick analysis without the fights, refusal and biting, there are a few things you can do to make this experience positive for you and your children. There are many resources online and through your dental provider or pediatrician on how to make instilling good dental habits fun for your kids.
As soon as babies are born, there are finger brushes that you can use to gently massage your child’s gums. This will help them get used to you putting your fingers in their mouth and the feeling of brushing their teeth. Teething babies will love having their teeth and gums brushed.
With toddlers, usually just spoon feeding or playing games to try to get them to open their tiny little mouths will work. Toddlers model parent behavior. If you say “UH OH” and open your mouth really big, your child might mimic you. You can also offer food on a spoon or with your fingers to try to get them to open their mouth.
As your kids get older, you are going to want to be quick and efficient when examining their teeth. They will naturally try to push you away or close their mouths after about 2 seconds, so you should see and know what you are looking for. When you are looking inside of your child’s mouth the first thing that should be on your radar is milky white spots. If you see these spots, or any other discoloration, this can mean there are already cavities forming.
There are also several ways to tell if your child is having dental issues without having to bother them with getting in their face and looking inside of their mouth. If you notice your child’s cheek is swollen, or they are only eating on one side of their mouth, this could be a sign that they are experiencing pain when they eat that they aren’t sure how to communicate. Especially if your child’s face seems swollen or bruised and they don’t recall any trauma occurring, you should immediately call the pediatrician so they can determine if there is a dental issue or something else going on.
Always remember, dental health is just as important as those yearly physical exams. Your child should see a dentist at least twice a year once they start having teeth come in. Instilling good habits when they are young will help them maintain these habits for life.