It’s important to teach your children about the importance of good oral hygiene right from the start. In fact, good oral hygiene can begin as soon as possible. It is up to you as a parent to develop routines that will help protect your child from cavities that can eventually lead to other kinds of various gum diseases. Here are a few tips for children on how to properly practice good oral hygiene:
1) Go to a Dentist often enough
Most individuals need dental checkups every 6 months along with a cleaning or scaling at least twice a year. It is said that a child should be taken to the dentist by his first birthday at least once. Therefore, despite the child not having dental issues right at the start, it is a good idea to take them to the dentist frequently to avoid any problems.
2) Brushing (it’s not Optional)
You can teach your children the importance of brushing after each meal, or even twice a day minimally even if they have only one tooth. Even before a child has any teeth, there are cavity-causing bacteria in areas of the tongue. You can ensure the bacteria does not affect your child greatly by avoiding sharing their saliva. For example, don’t share spoons or cups while eating is one way to protect them. Once your child gets at least one tooth, graduate to brushing with a soft-bristled kids’ toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Up until age 6, when their molars are beginning to come in, make sure you’re either doing the brushing for them to teach them how to do it properly or brushing after he does it himself or even supervising, because it’s tough for kids to understand the proper technique that early on.
3) Flossing (It’s not Optional either)
Many individuals think that flossing is something you do when the permanent teeth come in. Wrong! You want to start as soon as the teeth come in. If your child has any teeth that are touching, brushing is not enough to get all the food particles out. Therefore, flossing daily is key. Technique is important here too. Those little-kid disposable flossers are fine as well, as long as you still pull the floss firmly against the sides of each tooth to ensure maximum plaque removal.
4) Always use Good Technique
Brushing back and forth aggressively, that’s definitely a no. Tilt the bristles a bit toward the gums and gently brush in tiny circles, touching every surface of each tooth, all the way from the front to the back, covering every side. The general recommendation is to brush kids’ teeth for two minutes (30 seconds in each quadrant of the mouth) with the proper technique to ensure good oral hygiene.
5) Use Fluoride Toothpaste
It is today recommended that parents use fluoridated toothpaste as soon as their child gets their first tooth. This is because tooth decay has become a growing issue. On average, one in four preschoolers for example have already had a cavity, and that number grows to 55 percent by the time they’re old enough for kindergarten. The importance of Fluoride toothpaste is that it can block cavities, therefore using it from a young age goes a long way in protecting your children’s teeth.
6) Avoid Sugar
Children usually have a liking for sweets. It is important to understand that if your child eats anything with a decent amount of sugar, it will take the saliva a minimum of 30 minutes to neutralize the acidity that is created by decay-producing bacteria. A sugary snack every hour or very frequently can mean your child’s mouth is always acidic, not giving the saliva enough time to neutralize the acidity that is created by the decay-producing bacteria, thus increasing the chances for tooth decay. Therefore, monitoring your child’s sugar intake to keep it at a low-moderate level is important.
It is important to, from the beginning itself, teach your kids the importance of practicing good oral hygiene and care for the teeth.
Once your kids begin brushing and flossing on their own, make sure you supervise and watch to see if their technique is proper in order to make sure that they’ve understood how to practice good oral hygiene and that it has become a habit.
9) Make Oral Hygiene Habits Fun
As a parent, you’d probably already know how tedious and boring kids find brushing and flossing. Therefore, in order for them to begin practicing these habits properly, you have to make it fun! Come up with a song or have your kids play some toothbrushing games during brushing to keep them enthusiastic.
10) Reward your Kids
Along with always keeping a positive attitude and encouraging your kids as they learn and begin to understand how important it is to brush and floss, make sure you also reward them here and there. Leaving little treats from the tooth fairy every now or then never hurt anybody.