Teaching your children about dental hygiene and helping them to put good oral-care habits in place from a young age is very important. This knowledge and routine will pay health dividends over their lifetime, as well as make your life easier, and put less of a dent in your bank account balance! Read on for some simple steps you can follow today to help your children protect their teeth and gums over the long term.
Start at an Early Age
Starting early on dental health is one of the best things you can do. If you instill good dental habits in your children from a young age, it will be much easier for them to keep them up over their lifetime. You can get children used to their mouth being taken care of even when they’re a newborn baby.
For starters, regularly wipe their gums with a clean, moist washcloth or gauze pad in the time before they get teeth. This will get them comfortable with inspections of their mouth so that trips to the dentist and routine checkups are not stressful for them later on.
You should also book them in for their first trip to the dentist by the time they’re one year old, so that any potential problems can be identified early. It pays to choose a specialist pediatric firm, like Stephanie Collins Dentistry for Children, so that you know that the practitioner is experienced in working with young ones.
Brushing and Flossing
Brushing is the most important healthy dental habit you can teach your child. Keep in mind that a child’s baby teeth are at risk of decay as soon as they first appear (which is from around six months of age), so brushing needs to start early on. Teeth should be brushed at least morning and night.
When children are younger than two or three years of age, parents or other caregivers should be the ones to brush their teeth. At this time, you should use a very small amount of toothpaste (only around the size of a grain of rice) to remove the sticky film on teeth — plaque — that is the main cause of tooth decay. When children are between three and six years of age, they can start to brush their own teeth, but do need to be supervised. They can use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste at this time.
Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush for children, and teach them to brush gently back and forth along the inside surface of each tooth first (the spot where plaque tends to accumulate most), and then the outer surface, along the outer gum line, and the chewing surface of each tooth. You can also get your child into the habit of brushing their tongue.
When it comes to toothbrushes, you may like to consider purchasing an electric product for your child. Many parents find that the novelty aspect of electric toothbrushes helps to motivate children to brush their teeth more often and for longer, since it makes the process easier and more fun.
Children should also be taught to floss their teeth daily because this removes plaque and food particles between the teeth that brushing can miss. Flossing can begin once a child has at least two teeth that touch. When they’re young you can do this task for them, but by the time they’re around eight years old they should have the dexterity to do it themselves.
Eating and Drinking Well
When it comes to good dental habits, diet is also very important. A balanced diet that provides children with a full range of vitamins and minerals, as well as lots of calcium, fluoride, and phosphorous, helps them to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth.
On the other hand, frequent snacking on foods that contain lots of sugars and starches (such as soft drinks, cookies, potato chips, candies, and the like) can lead to problems. This is because the sugar and starch can combine with plaque on teeth to create acids which attach enamel and cause cavities. As a result, you should limit snacking between meals, and avoid the types of foods that can create these “plaque attacks” even more.
Lead by Example
Lastly, remember that the best way to help your child learn good dental habits is to model them yourself. You can lead by example by letting your child see you brush your own teeth morning and night, as well as floss. You can even let them help you complete the actions so that they get better at the skill themselves.