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Happy 2021! From your Indianapolis Pediatric Dentist. Now that a brand new year is underway and resolution season is in full swing, why not make some resolutions related to kids' healthy teeth and gums? By prioritizing your child's smile, you can set the stage for a lifetime of excellent oral health! Not sure where to start? Here are some great New Year's resolutions for your kiddo's pearly whites.

Brush twice a day and floss once daily
One of the leading causes of tooth decay in children is poor oral hygiene. It's important to brush and floss to remove plaque. If plaque isn't brushed away, the acids it releases will erode the tooth's enamel, eventually causing cavities. Have kids brush at least twice a day – or as directed by your pediatric dentist – for two minutes each brushing session using a fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day, preferably at night. As soon as they get their first tooth, begin brushing using a smear of fluoride toothpaste. Increase it to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for kids ages three to six. When any two teeth touch, floss away!

End the struggle and make brushing and flossing fun
Making oral hygiene for kids entertaining is one of the best resolutions for kids' healthy teeth you can make. When little ones enjoy brushing and flossing, it makes things easier for everyone involved, and they're more likely to keep it up throughout their life. The problem is that brushing every day is kind of boring and repetitive, so your challenge is to spice things up! Brush to two- minute songs, hold brushing contests, or dance around while you floss. The possibilities are endless but if you need inspiration, check out this article, five fun ways to get your kids to brush their teeth!

Encourage food for healthy teeth.
Moderation is vital when it comes to sugary treats, juice, and starchy foods like chips. The bacteria in the mouth feed on starches and release cavity-causing acids. Have kids rinse their mouth after eating or drinking these types of foods and limit them to special occasions. Encourage food for healthy teeth like fresh vegetables – raw carrots and celery are great for scraping away plaque while you eat them –, calcium-rich dairy and lean proteins.

Drink more water
Water is a smile's best friend! When kids drink water, it washes away food debris and plaque and encourages saliva production. Saliva helps replace the minerals lost during the acid attacks from the mouth's bacteria. You should never give a child a bottle or sippy cup with anything but water in their crib and serve predominantly water throughout the day. If you give your child juice, stick with 100% fruit juice with no sugar added and offer it only at meals or snack time.

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Nearly five million teeth are knocked out every year in the United States. Many of the injuries occur during sports, with basketball, hockey, martial arts, soccer, and football having the highest dental injury risk. A fundamental way to ensure kids' healthy teeth is always to have them wear a mouthguard when playing sports or doing any physical activity to sustain a blow to the face, even if it's not in the rule books. Dental injuries are painful, costly, and time-consuming to deal with. Losing primary teeth too early can lead to crowding issues and can interfere with chewing and speech, so you will still have to seek out treatment.

Keep an eye on harmful oral habits.
Thumb sucking and pacifier use are entirely natural and perfectly fine in the first years of life; however, when they go beyond a certain point, they can cause issues with the teeth and jaw's alignment and create the need for extensive orthodontic treatment in the teen years. We generally recommend intervening if a child is still using a pacifier or sucking on their thumb by the age of three and weaning babies from the bottle by 12 and 14 months of age.

Visit your pediatric dental center regularly.
We know you're busy, and you're juggling many things, but making time to visit the dentist twice a year – or according to the frequency your dentist recommends – for a check-up and cleaning is well worth it. Appointments allow your dentists to ensure your child's teeth, gums, and jaws are developing correctly, catch any issues early while they're easy to treat, and teach kids how to care for their smile. Professional cleanings are essential for kids' healthy teeth because we're able to remove hardened plaque that you can't merely brush away with a regular toothbrush.

Make these resolutions for kids' healthy teeth, and gums and your child's smile will thank you for years to come! If you're looking for a fun, expert pediatric dentist Indianapolis, schedule an appointment at Pediatric Dentistry West today. We'll help you get your year off to a fantastic start!

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