As a parent, you want to ensure that your children stay happy and healthy. While it’s important to have kids brush and floss regularly and schedule dental cleanings with a pediatric dentist every six months, preventative care at home is just as essential to optimal oral health.
The Importance of Dental Care for Kids
Unfortunately, many children suffer from tooth decay. In fact, more than half of them will have tooth decay or cavities by the time they reach the third grade. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 80 percent of all children will have tooth decay before the age of 18. This is why it’s crucial for parents to instill healthy dental hygiene habits in their kids from a young age so they know how to care for their teeth even before they’re all grown up.
The following tips will help you ensure that your kid’s smile stays healthy for years to come!
How to Keep Your Child’s Smile Healthy
- Begin dental care at birth. While babies don’t have teeth when they’re born, their gums must still be cleaned with an infant toothbrush or a damp cloth that you can wrap around your finger. This will ensure that any unwanted debris is gently washed away.
- When the first tooth comes in, start brushing it twice a day. This usually happens between 6 and 12 months of age. Begin by using water and a small children’s toothbrush with soft bristles.
- When your child’s first tooth appears, schedule a dental appointment. Dental experts recommend that parents start scheduling regular dental cleanings as soon as their child’s first teeth come in. Research shows that the earlier children begin going to the dentist, the less likely they are to develop cavities or tooth decay. That said, every child’s cooperation level varies during their first few years of development, so a first dental exam may simply consist of meeting the dental hygienist or dentist, and letting your child look around at the equipment and exam chair. A good rule of thumb is to accompany children during their first cleanings and watch them during the appointment. Having a familiar face in the room will put a child more at ease.
- Brush your kid’s teeth twice daily up until age 3, then let them start brushing. Toddlers should begin brushing their own teeth with parental supervision. Between the ages of 2 and 3 they should also be using a small, pea-size amount of toothpaste.
- Begin flossing your child’s teeth once you see that two teeth are touching. You will want to floss your child’s teeth for a while to ensure it is done correctly. At this time, you can also show your child how to floss and continue assisting them while they try.
- Let your child brush and floss on their own by the time they are 8. At this time, your child should know how to brush and floss on their own with just occasional check-ins from you. This gives children a sense of independence as they get older.
- Limit your child’s sugar intake. A diet filled with nutritious foods is essential for development of teeth and gum tissue. This is why it’s important to limit sugary, sticky foods and starches that can promote tooth decay and cavities.
- Make brushing and flossing a fun routine. Give your child a colorful toothbrush, and floss that is a kid-friendly flavor — like bubblegum. This will help them see brushing and flossing as a more enjoyable activity.
- Take extra precautions if your child is involved in sports. If your child decides they want to play a sport, be sure they use mouthguards to protect their young smile from injury.
- Continue to reinforce your child’s dental hygiene routine. While they may think you’re nagging, just be sure to monitor your kid’s oral care routine until they’re at least a pre-teen. By then, and especially by the time they are a teenager, these healthy dental habits will be second nature.
Remember: The tips above are to be used as general guidelines. If you think your child needs special dental care, or think he/she has a cavity or other dental issue, don’t hesitate to contact our Clintonville, Ohio dentists for a pediatric dental exam.
Need more information about dental hygiene for kids? Schedule an appointment today for your toddler, child or teen with our passionate pediatric dentists at Capstone Clintonville.