Kids hear it all the time. “Be sure to brush your teeth.” Your child is active and has a thousand things going on, on any given day. Children’s Dental Center knows this challenge well. Parents should set the example on good tooth care. Children will follow the example of parents and establish healthy habits for life. To start healthy habits, check out the 5 Things you and your child should know about keeping a healthy mouth and smile.
- It’s not too early to brush.
This one surprises many parents. It’s not too early to brush. For infants, brushing is done differently. Parents should use infant tooth and gum wipes to swab their child’s gums before teeth come in. This gentle tooth care practice helps greatly. It delays bacteria from growing in your child’s mouth and in small folds of the tongue. It’s all about fighting bacteria and avoiding any saliva sharing. You should not share spoons or cups with your child. Never clean a pacifier with your mouth first. Once your child has at least one tooth, you can start with a soft-bristled kids toothbrush. Use a tiny grain-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste and a soft brush after breakfast and after dinner. Parents will need to help with brushing at such a young age and help the child spit and rinse.
- Fluoride toothpaste is safe from the start.
Many of us parents grew up with a training toothpaste, something that was ‘safe when swallowed.’ In recent years, the American Dental Association has said that it is best to begin brushing with fluoride toothpaste. You can begin brushing with fluoride as soon as your baby gets his or her first tooth. Again, use a grain-sized dab of toothpaste with your baby. You should then use a pea-sized dab around the time the child turns three.
- Go to the dentist both early and often.
Your child should visit the dentist by the time he or she has a 1st birthday. Generally, adults need to visit the dentist twice-a-year. The same is true for kids. A pediatric dentist will conduct an oral exam and begin a dental history. If you as a parent have a high number of cavities, your child may be more likely to develop cavities. But early and frequent dental visits give your child the best chance and healthy teeth. It is estimated that dental costs in the first five years decrease by 40 percent if your child visits the dentist before age 1.
- Brushing technique really matters.
Kids are usually old enough to start brushing their own teeth between ages 3 and 5. A good rule is two minutes of brushing. That means about 30 seconds each on the top right and left and on the bottom right and left. Children’s Dental Center understands that 2 minutes is a long time for a 3- year-old. And it may not take a full 2 minutes for kids who don’t have all their teeth in. But starting this practice really helps tooth health in the long run. Kids should never ‘scrub’ their teeth back and forth. Instead, tilt the bristle toward the gums and brush each tooth in tiny circles. It’s all about preventing the surfaces and spaces from holding plaque.
- Get out the floss and floss daily.
Many adults set a poor example of flossing. Flossing should not be considered optional or just something you do when food is stuck. Many parents believe children do not need to floss until the permanent teeth come in. This is not true. You should begin flossing as soon as teeth are touching each other. No matter how well you brush, there are places that can’t be reached when teeth are touching. Disposable flossers made for little kids work well. Just be sure you can press firmly on the sides of the teeth.
Children’s Dental Center knows parents and kids have busy lives. And good tooth care is important to a child’s development and overall health. Practice these 5 Things and put your child in the best position possible for great tooth and mouth health. If you have any questions regarding your child’s dental health, please reach out to our dental experts.