The importance of dental hygiene for kids can’t be understated. Even with temporary baby teeth, daily dental hygiene should be a priority. This is to establish healthy oral care habits as early as possible, and to allow for proper development of their permanent teeth, speech patterns, and eating capabilities. Because we understand parents want to promote their child’s independence while also ensuring their teeth stay healthy, we’ve provided a few guidelines when it comes to children and dental health!
The Infant & Toddler Years
Before teeth emerge in your baby’s mouth, remove food particles and bacteria by gently wiping and massaging the gums with a warm washcloth or with a specially designed gum brush for babies. Once their teeth come in, begin brushing teeth daily with a soft-bristled toddler toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste no greater than the size of a grain of rice. (It’s OK if they swallow this small amount of toothpaste.) Additionally, we recommend that children see a dentist after their first tooth emerges or by their first birthday. Begin flossing as soon as they have two teeth touching.
At age three, you can begin to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Encourage your child to rinse and spit after brushing their teeth. You’ll need to continue brushing your child’s teeth for these early years of their life to ensure a thorough clean. However, they may want to start helping. Feel free to let them explore and play around brushing their teeth with water, but for most kids you’ll need to come in with the toothpaste to finish the job properly.
Around age 6, many children are responsible enough and have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth thoroughly, although they may still need help with flossing. But the time frame will vary depending on the needs, maturity, and development of each child. Remind your child of good technique, supervising to be sure they brush their tongue and get all those hard-to-reach areas. Their skills should begin to improve as they age and they will likely be able to do the routine very well on their own as they progress in elementary school. As a parent, lead by example with your own daily oral hygiene, offer ample praise and encouragement, and consider investing in an electric toothbrush and water flosser made for kids.
Encouraging Preventive Oral Care
As you teach proper oral health habits to your children, hold them accountable with reasonable expectations, and encourage them with plenty of praise, you’ll set them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Remember that your kids also need to be seen for regular dental visits twice a year, just like adults! If you have any questions about your child’s dental health, or would like to schedule their next appointment to our office, contact us today.
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