Oral Hygiene

Children are notorious for not wanting to brush their teeth. However, the down side to poor oral hygiene practices can be far-reaching, affecting your child’s oral health for the rest of their life. Tooth decay in the U.S. is known to be the leading long-term infectious disease in children, and if gone untreated can lead to not only pain and further infections, but also many associated problems related to eating, playing, and even learning. On the bright side, poor oral hygiene is preventable through a combination of regular dental visits and early childhood education on the benefits and importance of proper oral health.

Teach Proper Dental Care

As described earlier, one of the biggest reasons to begin teaching your child proper oral hygiene at an early age is to prevent dental complications later in life. It is critical to actively teach your children early because, as children, they do not have yet have the power of foresight, and will not understand the long-term consequences of not starting oral care early. Thus, one way to begin the process of teaching proper oral health is to supervise your child and show them how to take care of their teeth. This can be done in various engaging ways. For example, brushing your teeth along with your child is a great way to not only make sure your child has brushed but also to share some quality time together. When your child is very young, you can show them how to properly brush by actually holding the toothbrush handle for them, showing how it’s done, and then letting them do it themselves. Another tactic is to make tooth brushing time an enjoyable experience by making it fun through the creation of tooth brushing games. Also, when your child is old enough to brush their teeth on their own, be sure to continue to supervise them from time to time, making sure that they are correctly brushing, pointing out any missed areas. One further important thing is to teach your child early on the importance of flossing. This is especially vital if you child’s teeth are very tightly aligned. Often, children will find that using a flosser that has a handle to be much easier than the thread itself.

Toothbrush with toothpaste on it.

Start Early

It is crucial to ensure that your child’s teeth are taken care of as soon as possible. Many parents believe that they do not need to brush the teeth of their baby. However, according to experts, as soon as your baby has grown his or her first tooth, the brushing of teeth should begin. Thus, even if it’s just the one tooth, parents can use gauze to wipe the tooth.

In fact, well before your baby has teeth at all, the gums can be brushed either using water on a soft toothbrush for babies or just a washcloth. Once a few teeth have grown in, parents can begin using the toothbrush for infants with a bit of toothpaste, twice a day. Furthermore, flossing should be practiced as soon as two teeth have grown in and are touching each other. Consult your dentist on how to properly floss a baby’s teeth. Also consider including mouthwash at an early age, but no earlier than when your child has learned the ability to spit out mouthwash. As far as certain dental milestones are concerned, your child should be able to brush their teeth on their own as soon as they learn how to tie their own shoes. Additionally, be sure to teach your child from an early age that the best time to brush their teeth is right before bed, with a stress on the avoidance of beverages and food, aside from water, at bedtime.

Little girl at the dentist's office.

When To See The Dentist

According to pediatricians and dentists, your child should begin to see a dentist at about the one year old mark, the message being that by starting regular dental visits early on will save on expensive dental bills later when the child gets older. In fact, it has been shown that if a child has dental visits beginning at age one, dental bills are 40 percent lower at the 5 year mark compared to children who did not have early dental visits. Furthermore, during the first visit to the dentist, many things will be covered than just cavity prevention. For example, topics such as how parents can properly look after their baby’s teeth, various stages to expect in the baby’s teeth development, and how diet impacts oral health. Also discussed will be the scheduling of future visits, which will depend upon factors such as the baby’s specific needs and oral health risks. However, a visit usually every six months will be the prescribed schedule.