19 Months to 3 Years Old

19 Months to 3 Years Old

It’s important to maintain a toddler’s health, and that’s why it is recommended that toddlers see a pediatric dentist at minimum every 6 months. These visits put a focus on dental education for parents to help establish proper habits that will prevent cavities and aid in keeping your child pain free. During these visits a parent will often sit with their child during the exam, providing comfort for the toddler and allowing easy demonstration of any concerns or points of discussion.

Studies have shown that the application of fluoride at the dentist every 6 months can help reduce cavities by 75%. During these visits, we try to keep the dental exams and cleanings at a minimum if the child cannot tolerate a full cleaning yet. We will provide a thorough exam with parental help usually not lasting longer than a minute, followed by an application of fluoride.

Below are some questions that are frequently asked during toddler dental visits:

What is the best way to brush my toddler's teeth?

Select a toothbrush suitable for your child’s age and apply a small amount of toothpaste, similar in size to a grain of rice. Position your toddler’s head in your lap or have them lie down for a clear view of all teeth and improved control during brushing. Delicately move the brush in small circular motions around your child’s teeth, making sure to brush the gums gently and thoroughly clean the grooves of any molars. In total, the brushing routine for toddlers should take only 60-90 seconds.

What if my toddler doesn’t let me brush?

Add this to the list of things that toddlers might not enjoy but are essential for their well-being (another aspect of the joys of parenting)! We would rather emphasize the importance of brushing and prevention, as opposed to the need for fillings. Many toddlers may resist, but brushing is a crucial step to ensure their optimal health. Sit down on the floor, utilize a TV or phone as a distraction if necessary, and position the toddler’s head on your lap or have them lie down so you can easily access their teeth and manage their movements. In the case of particularly energetic toddlers, brushing may require the involvement of both parents for a period. In the long run, don’t lose heart – it will improve!

What are the most important things to do for my toddler’s teeth?
Here are some tips for maintaining your toddler's dental health:

1. If your toddler has moved on from the bottle, ensure it only contains water during naps and bedtime. This is crucial as children are most susceptible to cavities while sleeping. You can ease this transition by gradually diluting milk with water over a week until the bottle contains only water.

2. Brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day with a small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice.

3. Limit fruit juice to mealtimes and follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of no more than 4 ounces per day.

4. Schedule regular dental check-ups with a pediatric dentist for your child.

5. Maintain good dental care for yourself, including regular brushing and flossing, to minimize the transfer of cavity-causing bacteria to your child.

6. As children gain more independence, they may want to brush on their own or resist tooth brushing. You can allow them to brush independently, but it’s advised that they don’t use toothpaste. Afterward, a parent should thoroughly brush their teeth. Children should not brush unsupervised until they have the coordination to tie their own shoes, typically around 6 years of age.

Should anything be done about thumb sucking or pacifiers?

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises starting to phase out pacifier use after 6 months of age. Prolonged use beyond 1 year of age may heighten the risk of ear infections, according to the AAP. Dental alterations may commence after a year of pacifier use. However, if the habit is discontinued shortly thereafter, teeth can typically realign into a normal, healthy position.

Breaking thumb-sucking habits can be quite challenging, and realistically, there are limited strategies that are both effective and gentle, especially before your child reaches 3 years of age. We suggest employing a low-key approach with gentle reminders until your child is mature enough to benefit from more targeted interventions.

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The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents establish a dental home for their child by the age of 12 months.

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