It may be too late to get that in-demand gift for your kid this year, but it’s never too late to give the gift of good oral hygiene habits. Sure, your child may not appreciate it now, but they’ll be glad when they’re older that their smile is attractive, their teeth are intact, and their mouth is free from problems.
Below, we’ve listed a few ways you can start building those good dental habits as soon as infancy. Take a couple of minutes to check them out, then call with questions or to book your kid’s next visit with us.
Start Brushing as Soon as Their First Tooth Emerges
Babies are not immune to decay. Baby bottle tooth decay is a more common problem than you may think. As soon as your little one’s first tooth emerges, you can gently clean it with a soft baby toothbrush. Even before that, you can wipe their gums clean daily with a soft cloth. This also helps your baby get used to someone cleaning inside their mouth.
Give Your Child Water With Each Meal
As your child gets older and is weaned off the bottle, make sure you give them water with each meal. Tap water contains fluoride, which is proven to help prevent tooth decay. Water also keeps their mouth rinsed after eating, so it naturally removes food particles that build up bacteria in their mouth.
If your child is used to drinking water instead of sugary drinks – even juice – when they’re young, they will be more likely to make water their go-to beverage throughout the day as they get older.
Bring Your Child to the Dentist by Age 2 or 3
We typically see kids starting at age 3, when they are able to sit in the chair and understand what’s going on. Also, this is the age where kids start getting cavities; about a quarter of kids have a cavity by age 4.
We start checkups at your child’s pace, having them sit, counting their teeth, looking inside their mouth if they’ll let us, letting them look at our instruments and equipment, and cleaning their teeth only if they feel comfortable with it.
if your child is anxious or just hasn’t been to the dentist before, we spend time talking to them.
We make sure kids never have a traumatic experience at the dentist but feel safe and know we are here to help! Parents are welcome to sit with their child or stay in the room – whatever makes you and your child comfortable.
Set an Example For Your Child
If your child sees you brushing your teeth and flossing every day, they will realize good dental care at home is a normal part of their routine, just like getting dressed in the morning, eating breakfast, and taking a bath. If they know you go to the dentist and that it’s a positive experience for you, they won’t have a reason to be afraid when it’s their turn to go.
Brush & Floss Their Teeth For Them
Until your child has the dexterity and can be trusted to brush their teeth thoroughly, we recommend doing it for them. You can help prevent cavities, especially in the back teeth, which kids can’t always reach easily or skip on accident. Make sure you brush for at least two minutes, spending the same amount of time for each surface (top/bottom, front, back). And floss once a day, using fun flossers if it helps.
Make Home Oral Hygiene Fun
When it’s time for them to take over, let them pick out their toothbrush, toothpaste, and flossers if it incentivizes them to keep up with their oral hygiene habits. You might also buy a toothbrush that plays music to help them brush for the right amount of time. If not, a toothbrush app can help them time their brushing. So can a song that’s two or three minutes long.
Some children do well with rewards, like a calendar where they get a sticker every day they brush their teeth, with a prize or activity at the end of the month.
The gift of good oral hygiene pays dividends with a beautiful, healthy smile that boosts their self-esteem in childhood and beyond. Has your child seen us in the last six months? If not, book their appointment now. We love talking to kids and parents about good oral hygiene habits.