Good Habits Start Young
While we may associate dental health with teeth, oral health care actually begins at the gums. By providing proper care for your infant's gums you can help prevent many serious conditions from occurring once their teeth erupt. At around six months of age, your child’s first teeth (usually the lower front teeth) will begin to come in.
Here’s how you should care for a baby’s teeth and gums:
- After feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a soft washcloth to remove bacteria, which cause tooth decay.
- Once teeth begin to arrive, brush twice daily with a grain-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Book your baby’s first dental appointment before their first birthday or after his or her first baby tooth has come in - whichever arrives first.
- Limit soother use to nap time or bedtime starting at one or two years old.
Performing Your Oral Hygiene Routine As a Family
Your child's oral health needs will continue to change as they grow and so the dental care services they need will change as well. Baby (primary) teeth should all be in by age three and will start falling out around age six when their adult (permanent) teeth start growing in. By the time your child is around 13 years old, they will have most of their adult teeth.
Here are some of the ways you can help elevate the oral care routine for children ages 3 and older:
- Brush and floss together. Kids love copying adults, so take advantage of this by having them watch you brush and floss while explaining the process. Build good habits by starting to floss once a day when teeth touch (around 6 years of age).
- Choose a special brush and toothpaste. Make brushing fun by choosing a brightly coloured, soft-bristled toothbrush and flavoured toothpaste your child loves (use a pea-sized amount).
- Teach the importance of diet for healthy teeth. For excellent oral hygiene, calcium-rich foods like green vegetables, cheese, and yogurt are key.
- Limit sugary foods, fruit juices, and soda, which get stuck in the crevices of kids’ teeth and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Continuing to Maintain Your Childs Good Oral Hygiene Habits
By the time your child enters their teen years, they will need to continue utilizing the habits that you have already instilled in them. At this age you should:
- Discourage tobacco use. Not only are smoking and tobacco terrible for your lungs, but tobacco can also lead to many diseases, such as gum disease and oral cancers.
- Remind your pre-teen to drink water, and keep your fridge full of healthy snacks.
- Remind them how great a healthy, white smile looks. Appeal to appearance-conscious pre-teens by reminding them that maintaining excellent oral health will keep their teeth strong and their smile white.
- Continue regular dental visits.