A good dental hygiene program is essential for healthy living. This doesn’t just apply to adults either; your kids should be taught about these particular habits as soon as they have teeth.
While most of us know the basics, you might not know the specifics you should be teaching your children (and brushing up on yourself). That’s why we’ve collected some dental hygiene tips to help parents keep their children’s smiles bright and clean!
Tip 1: Start Their Dental Hygiene Program Early
Most children will grow their first tooth at around the 4- to 6-month benchmark. There isn’t much reason not to get their cleaning routine started as soon as you see those first pearly whites. While they won’t be able to do it themselves yet, you can get them used to the process and help normalize brushing their teeth.
Babies can have teeth problems too and you need to be aware of that. Dental hygiene for kids, especially very young kids, means monitoring their sugar intake as well as keeping their teeth clean. Under the wrong circumstances, even very young children can develop serious teeth problems, so don’t assume you can wait to care about oral health.
For infants who only have a few teeth, it’s recommended you clean using only plain water and a soft toothbrush. At 2 to 3, most children are old enough to understand they can’t swallow the toothpaste if told, so this is where the transition to fluoride toothpaste can often begin.
That said, it’s best to consult with a dentist about the best time to switch over to fluoride toothpaste, just to be safe.
Tip 2: Two Minutes, at Least Twice a Day
Do you know 4 in 10 kids will have decay in their baby teeth? Even if these teeth aren’t permanent, decay can be very painful. Depending on the severity of the decay, it might also be expensive and complex to fix.
There isn’t an excuse for not getting the basics right. Your child may not know better but you should! We should all be brushing our teeth at least twice a day for two minutes per brushing.
At first, this means doing it for them yourself. Then at about 7 or 8, experts recommend starting to have children do it themselves. (While some may try it earlier, it’s important to remember you need the child to be capable of doing a good job, which many young children just can’t handle yet.)
Tip 3: Brushing Can Be Stressful – Make It Fun!
Many children (and adults) don’t like brushing their teeth. At best, it can be boring. At worst, it can be irritating or even painful.
That’s putting aside that two minutes is also a long time for many children. They aren’t used to having to stand in one place for that long. It might even feel like a punishment!
The solution is to try and make the process as fun as you can, while still making sure they’re really brushing for the full time. One common tip to help the process is to allow your child to choose their own toothbrush. If there is a design or character they will enjoy, it’s worth the extra few dollars to make brushing a more positive experience.
As for the two minutes, you can’t expect a child to track that in their head. While a clock may help, something fun, such as playing a song of the right length, can make it easier on them. Ideally, it helps for them to be a little distracted so the time goes faster but not so distracted that they stop brushing.
Tip 4: Regular Checkups Aren’t Just for Adults
Many adult dental hygiene tips also apply to children. Their teeth aren’t all that different from adult teeth; they’re just less permanent.
It is recommended that a child gets their teeth checked at least once every six months. It’s also a good idea to have their mouths checked near when they get their first few teeth too, just to make sure everything is coming in right. It may seem like a lot but it can prevent much more expensive issues from creeping up on you.
Like with many of our tips, there’s also an element to this process of just normalizing the “scary” parts of oral hygiene. Many children are scared of dentists and you want to help teach them dentists are only there to help. Getting them used to dentists and their tools can go a long way to encouraging a healthy relationship with dentistry in the future.
If you’re worried your child is still scared, talk with their dentist. They may be able to help walk them through the process and answer any questions have. Most dentists will accommodate a child’s needs and go slow at first to help make it less stressful.
(For adults in need of a checkup, consider Aria Dental. They offer general and family dentistry services of all kinds!)
Healthy Habits Make for Healthier Futures
Locking in a good dental hygiene program early will do your child good for years to come. Some mild work on maintaining one’s oral health now can save serious cash and pain later. This is not to mention that once your child “gets” it, you won’t have to watch them like a hawk every time it comes time for brushing.
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