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Tips to help your child with their oral health

The importance of proper oral health for all children including children with special needs is key in the pursuit of a healthy smile. By limiting the amount of bacteria (sugar bugs) in the mouth, the child's risk of gum disease and cavity occurrence may be lowered. In the effort to prevent dental disease daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits and a healthy diet should be made a priority.

It is important to maintain as much of the child's independence as possible. This can be done through the use of modeling and tool modification. Dental care, whether it be in the home or clinical setting can bring out fears in the child. For this reason each step should be taken slowly and each step explained.

In an effort to create happy and health dental life for the child, the parent/caretaker may need to employ multiple tool and techniques.

Oral Health Care is Important

Proper oral health is part of a healthy body. Regular home care helps prevent painful dental cavities and tooth loss. To establish a daily routine and get your child more comfortable with this, start at a young age.

  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss once a day
  • Use toothpaste with fluoride

There are many oral hygiene products that can make it easier to brush and floss. Try these simple ways to increase the toothbrush handle size to make brushing easier. This can be done by inserting a toothbrush handle into a bicycle grip, tennis ball or foam roll. An electric toothbrush may also be a good option.

Steps to Brushing Your Child's Teeth

When helping your child brush and floss, it is most important to consider their comfort first. Some children may not like anything near their mouth, but encourage your child to brush and floss daily.

  • Work from behind the child. This gives you the best access to the mouth and is the most comfortable for them.
  • Turn your child's head to the side.
  • Place a towel under their chin to help stabilize the head.
  • Never place fingers between molars. If needed, a rolled cloth can be used to help keep mouth open.
  • Start on front surfaces of teeth, using gentle pressure and moving slowly to back teeth.
  • Try to keep toothbrush on the sides of the mouth and close to the teeth to avoid choking or gaging.
  • Take a break as often as your child needs.

Prepare for the Dental Visit

Visit the dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will decide how often your child will need to be seen. Ask the dentist for dental sealants and fluoride treatment to protect your child's teeth from cavities.

  • Talk to your child about going to the dentist. Use words your child will understand. Avoid using terms like "shot" and " drill". Pictures or books may help to explain what will happen.
  • Make the dental appointment for a time of day that is best for your child, if possible.
  • Bring the list of all medicines your child takes, and questions you may have about your child's teeth.
  • If your child is in a wheelchair, ask the dental office if your child can be treated in the wheelchair.
  • If your child is anxious about dental visits, inform the dental staff of the most successful way to talk with your child.
  • Tell the dentist you would like to talk about any treatment before it is done.
  • Ask your dentist about the benefits of using Xylitol.

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