Getting kids to brush their teeth isn’t always easy, but failing to instill proper oral hygiene in them from an early age can be detrimental to their dental health. The habits you teach your kids at a young age will inevitably follow them into adulthood as well. When it comes to proper dental care for kids, it’s always best to lead by example. Children absorb and oftentimes mimic everything their parents do, so it’s important to show them how to take good care of their oral health. Make brushing your teeth in the morning and a night a family affair or turn it into a game to make it more fun and motivate them to do it regularly.
Keep reading for some more awesome dental tips for children!
Why Oral Hygiene Is Important for Children
First-time parents often ask dentists when the right time is to start taking care of the oral health of their children. The answer is simple: as soon as they’re born. Even when they don’t have teeth yet, there are certain things you can do to get your children started on the path to excellent oral health.
Since they’re unable to care for themselves at this stage, it’s important that you do it for them. Start by using a soft cloth to gently clean their gums after every feeding to prevent the manifestation and growth of harmful bacteria.
Teaching Kids to Take Care of Their Oral Health
As your kids get older, it’s important to teach them how to properly brush their teeth, floss, and use mouth wash so that they can become more self-reliant adults with excellent health. Teaching and encouraging kids to brush their teeth from an early age is challenging, but if you honestly explain to them the health risks that could occur if they don’t, then they’ll be more motivated to take great care of their teeth. In a way, this also teaches them a sense of responsibility and accountability.
How to Care for Kids’ Teeth
Here are a few essential dental care tips for children at varying stages during their development:
- 1-2 years of age: Babies generally start to teethe around 4-6 months. Between the ages of 1 and 2, your child will have a full set of baby teeth. The best way to care for their baby teeth is to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush their teeth with water at least twice a day. Under the advice of your dentist, you can even start using a small dab the size of a grain of rice of fluoridated toothpaste.
- 2-4 years: Around this age, you can start physically guiding your child’s hand as they brush their own teeth. Make sure they spend a minimum of two full minutes brushing their teeth. Concentrate on the back molars as that’s where the most food particles tend to get stuck, which creates a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.
- 4-7 years: These are the most formative years in your child’s development. While you should continue to monitor their oral hygiene techniques, you can also start letting them take the wheel more often. Introduce the concept of flossing around 4 or 5 years old. You will still need to floss for them until they are older.
- 8+ years: By this point, your child should have mastered the skill of brushing their teeth and they should be getting used to flossing even maybe trying it on their own sometimes. Some children can’t handle floss on their own until 12+ years of age so keep monitoring this skill until they can do it. To continue to motivate your kids, encourage them to brush their teeth alongside you in the morning and at night. Kids tend to look up to their parents and older siblings, so it helps knowing that an adult or older child they trust is also taking care of their oral hygiene.
General Oral Healthcare Tips
Wondering how to brush your kids’ teeth effectively? The reality is that kids don’t always sit still when you’re trying to impart important knowledge to them. They get finicky, restless, or bored. The best way to teach them how to properly brush their teeth is to make it into a fun game that they actually look forward to.
Promote Healthy Oral Care Habits
First and foremost, be completely honest with your kids because there’s no point in hiding the truth. Discourage them from sucking their thumbs as this can lead to asymmetrical permanent teeth and spread bacteria. Also limit the use of a soother and discontinue “thumbs” and “soothers” before age 3. Come up with a strict morning and bedtime routine that requires them to brush their teeth and floss.
Teach Them the Correct Teeth Brushing and Flossing Techniques
Years ago, dentists encouraged their patients to brush their teeth in a gentle circular motion. However, this has been proven to be incorrect because the circular motions of the brush can push against the gums, causing them to recede. Now the correct way to brush your teeth is to use light and gentle back and forth strokes to remove food particles between the teeth and under the gums.
Flossing the right way is also important. If using string floss, wrap the ends of the floss around your two middle fingers, gently guide it between your teeth using your index fingers and move it up and down along the gum line. Avoid forcing the floss between your teeth if they’re too close together; gently guide it instead.
Limit Your Child’s Sugar Intake from an Early Age
Instilling healthy oral and eating habits in your kids from an early age will carry on into adulthood. Limiting their sugar intake from an early age can help them maintain excellent oral health as sugar is the number one enemy of developing teeth and gums. Eating too many sugary foods is exactly how kids get cavities, so it’s best to avoid foods with added refined sugars altogether.
Professional Child Dentistry in Etobicoke
Looking for more in-depth advice on how to care for your kids’ teeth? The professional and experienced dentists at Princeview Dental Group in Etobicoke are here to answer all of your questions! Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your children!