When it comes to oral health, parents need to teach their kids healthy habits from the beginning. Here are a few good dental hygiene tips for kids.
Good dental hygiene is an essential and, unfortunately, often neglected part of staying healthy for adults and children alike.
It's so neglected, in fact, that tooth decay is one of the most common health problems American children face. Left untreated, it can cause your child pain and infections and can lead to dental complications down the road.
It is, however, entirely preventable. Read on to find out how to teach your children good dental hygiene habits that will carry them through adulthood.
Start your child out early.
Yes, your baby's teeth are temporary, but that doesn't mean they don't need oral care. Keeping those baby teeth clean will set the stage for healthy adult teeth to take their place.
Start the oral hygiene routine early by regularly wiping down your baby's gums. When her first tooth shows up, brush with a soft-bristled brush using water.
You can also start flossing once your child's teeth are close enough to touch each other. Even though flossing once daily is an important step to keeping gums healthy, four out of 10 adults say they never do it. So take care to instill this habit early with your young one.
Encourage children to take care of their own teeth.
By age 6, most children will be able to brush on their own—with your supervision, of course.
Allowing your children to handle their own dental care will allow them to develop the skills needed to prevent problems like cavities or gingivitis. Teach them that twice daily brushing and flossing once per day are non-negotiable parts of their daily routine.
Make sure you're purchasing the right tools.
Child-sized toothbrushes are a must. They're smaller in size and feature softer bristles that are less likely to irritate sensitive gums, even in the hands of a dental hygiene novice.
If you're having trouble getting your child to floss, consider purchasing a more kid-friendly alternative.
Disposable flossers feature a handle and are easier to maneuver between teeth, especially the hard-to-reach back molars.
You can also purchase an electric toothbrush and flosser—just be sure the model you choose is meant for children.
Make good dental hygiene fun.
Buy sparkly toothbrushes, flavored toothpaste, bubble gum mouthwash—whatever it takes to make your child look forward to dental care.
You can also set up some incentives to get your child excited about brushing. Consider offering rewards when she keeps to a regular schedule of brushing and flossing.
The less you can make this process seem like a chore, the more likely your kids are to practice good dental hygiene.
Don't skip the dentist.
There really is no substitute for a dental cleaning. You should be encouraging good dental hygiene at home, but after your child's first birthday you should also take her in for a dental checkup twice per year.
This will ensure your child's smile is bright and catch any cavities or other problems. It also gets her in the habit of visiting the dentist—a behavior she should continue throughout adulthood.
Check out the Pacific Beach Smile Studio blog for more tips on maintaining good dental hygiene for you and your child.