Did you know that different oral health risks occur at different ages? That means you’ll need new oral hygiene habits and dental treatments at different stages of your life. In our Oral Hygiene Tips blog series, we’re taking a look at the kinds of oral health issues you should expect and the habits you should practice at certain ages. Our Hudsonville family dentists will be there for you every step of the way. For our first blog, let’s discuss some oral health risks and hygiene tips for children. Typical Risks to Your Child’s Oral Health The two most common health risks for young children are cavities and common dental emergencies. Dental Cavities 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had dental caries (cavities) in their baby teeth. While this statistic is troubling, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute — why does it matter if cavities form in baby teeth? Aren’t they going to fall out anyway?” While it’s true that baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) aren’t permanent, that doesn’t mean tooth decay is less of a problem. We have to treat cavities in children’s primary teeth so their adult teeth will emerge correctly. Also, untreated cavities in primary teeth can invite dangerous infections into the body just as much as untreated cavities in adult teeth. Tooth fillings for children with cavities can help stop tooth decay and prevent gum disease. Common Dental Emergencies Childhood is full of bumps and bruises. As a parent, you probably know the difference between a small scrape and something more serious, but what if you have to evaluate a dental injury? Do you know how to identify a dental emergency? Common dental emergencies for children include: \tKnocked out tooth \tCracked tooth \tTongue or lip bite \tToothaches \tObject stuck in teeth Generally speaking, if your child’s injury presents an immediate threat to their health (e.g., a broken tooth with jagged edges), you should see our emergency dentists at once. If your child is struggling with something less urgent, like a minor toothache that isn’t interrupting their ability to eat, sleep, or speak, then you can schedule an appointment with our family dentists and we’ll see your child as soon as possible. Keep in mind that serious facial trauma requires emergency medical treatment, not dental treatment. If your child has a dental emergency, like a lost tooth, but also other injuries, like a broken nose, then you should take your child to the emergency room first. Teaching Your Child Good Oral Hygiene Habits The best way to protect against dental emergencies and cavities is to practice good oral hygiene habits. For children ages 0–9, our Hudsonville children’s dentists focus on: \tProper brushing technique: Even before your child has teeth, you should wipe their gums regularly with a gentle washcloth. Once their teeth start coming in, start brushing. Your child can start brushing (with your supervision) as soon as they can hold a toothbrush and spit on their own. Your child should brush their teeth twice a day. \tFluoride treatments: Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that strengthens tooth enamel. We encourage parents to buy fluoridated toothpaste for their children. Our family dentists can apply a stronger fluoride treatment in our office to protect your child’s teeth as well. \tDental sealants: Our Hudsonville dentists can use dental sealants to protect your child’s first and second molars from cavities. As soon as these emerge, we’ll paint a sealant on them to keep food debris and bacteria out, preventing tooth decay. \tProper eating habits: It’s never too early to teach your child that sugary foods and drinks lead to cavities. Help your child establish healthy eating habits to protect their oral health and their overall health. \tDental and orthodontic visits: It’s important to get in the habit of taking your child to the dentist every six months. That way, we can monitor the development of their teeth and respond to any problems before they develop into dental emergencies. Additionally, between the ages of 7 and 9, you’ll typically want to schedule your child’s first orthodontic visit. Protect Your Child’s Oral Health Our Hudsonville, MI, children’s dentists can help you keep your child’s oral health on the right track, whether they’re dealing with cavities, suffering from a dental emergency, or just need preventative care. Call Hudsonville Dental today at (616) 209-4024, or contact us online to schedule an appointment.