Good oral hygiene begins by developing healthy habits as a child, practices that kids hopefully will maintain through their lives. Oral hygiene is not only important for healthy teeth and gums, but for maintaining overall health. Below are some tips on how to start your children off with good oral hygiene habits.
The first step to teaching children good oral hygiene is to start young. As soon as an infant’s first tooth breaks their gums, it is time to begin brushing. While these are just the baby teeth, children will have them for several years and if they are not well maintained from the get-go, they can get cavities and mouth diseases. A baby’s gums will be sensitive while they are teething, so use a soft bristled toothbrush. Brush gently twice a day.
As your child becomes a toddler you can start introducing things like flossing, fluoride mouthwash, and chewable tabs. Once you give them new oral hygiene habits, it is important that you consistently require your child to follow them daily. The more consistent you are from the beginning, the more these habits will feel like second nature instead of something that they “have” to do. Also, try to find ways to make oral health fun by a buying a toothbrush adorned with your child’s favorite cartoon character or by getting toothpaste in fruity child-friendly flavors.
Take Them To The Dentist
Visits to the dentist should begin biannually by the time your child reaches age one. While your child will not yet have a mouth full of teeth, your dentist can show you the best ways to brush and clean your infant’s teeth and mouth. They can also give you recommendations for good dental practices, such as what kind of toothpaste to use for infants and how much toothpaste to use. As your children age, your dentist may suggest sealants, dietary changes, or increased frequency and brushing. Continue with regular visits to the dentist throughout your child’s school age years to make it a consistent part of their oral hygiene routine.
Set An Example
One of the most common things parents forget when it comes to developing their child’s oral hygiene habits is setting a good example. If you are asking your child to brush and floss twice a day and to go to the dentist twice a year, but are not doing this yourself, your child will take note. This could lead them to assume that only children need to visit the dentist regularly, or that oral hygiene is not all that important. Remember, as parents, you are your children’s first role model. They look up to you, and will follow many of your health habits — both good and bad.
Ultimately, both you and your children stand to benefit from proper oral health practices. If you set a good example, your whole family will have healthy mouths, and you can get your children started with healthy dental habits from a young age.
Thomas Whitaker enjoys writing about oral hygiene, dentistry, fitness, nutritional science, general health and other related topics; those who’d like more information about dental health should view the resources offered by Dr. Randy Gittes, Pediatric Dentist.