When a child reaches the age of two, an important milestone in his or her life occurs. Two-year-olds are entering a stage of independence that often causes this period to be referred to as the terrible twos. In addition to the behavioral concerns associated with this age, there may also be dental concerns. Here is a bit of information to help ensure that your child's teeth remain healthy and protected during the second year of life:
By the time your child reaches the age of two, he or she should be regularly visiting a pediatric dentist. Many dentists recommend that a child's first visit occur when his or her first tooth presents. Since many of your child's primary teeth should already be in place by the time he or she is two years old, your child should already be experiencing regular dental visits. A routine dental visit should be performed at least once every six months.
Although you may not initially see the importance of taking a child to the dentist so early, these visits can help ensure that your child becomes comfortable with his or her pediatric dental provider. This can help protect your child from developing dental fears that may prohibit him or her from visiting the dentist later in life.
A two-year-old is unlikely to brush his or her teeth as effectively as needed. Thus, you may need to brush your child's teeth. You should plan to brush your little one's teeth at least twice daily, once in the morning and again just before bedtime.
Bedtime brushing is particularly important because your child's saliva production declines at night. This can cause the mouth to be excessively dry. Without enough saliva present to rinse away plaque and particles of food from the mouth, your child's teeth become more susceptible to decay. Thus, it is important to brush the teeth thoroughly before your child goes to bed at night.
Many two-year-olds still suck their thumb. This can become an issue as your child's teeth continue to develop. The pressure placed by the thumb on the upper palate can cause the teeth to jut out. This can affect the bite of your child, so the teeth in the upper and lower palate may not meet properly when your child closes his or her mouth.
To help discourage thumb sucking, scolding should be avoided. Instead, positive reinforcement and praise should be offered when your child avoids the practice. In addition, you can offer your child a small toy to occupy his or her hands. Also, feel free to gently remove your child's thumb from his or her mouth when he or she is sleeping.
To learn more ways to protect your child's dental health during the terrible twos, schedule a consultation with a dentist, such as Barry Groder DDS, in your area.