Kids who practice good dental hygiene from a young age will be less likely to develop fear of dentist visits later in life. Parents can start by wiping their infant’s gums after every meal with a cloth, then brushing the teeth and gums once they start growing in (around 2 years old).
Make brushing fun. Have your child brush with you to help them learn and set a good example.
1. Brush Daily
Kids need to brush their teeth twice a day, preferably before and after breakfast and dinner. They should use a toothbrush with a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Parents should help kids brush until they are around two to set a good example and ensure that their teeth are cleaned well.
What children eat and drink also impacts their dental health. Sugary foods and drinks can fuel oral bacteria that cause tooth decay. These bacteria erode tooth enamel, which is why limiting snacks that contain sugar and eating less processed food can prevent cavities.
If kids do eat sweet snacks, they should have them between meals and limit the number of times they are given them throughout the day. If they do chew gum, make sure it is sugar-free. Sugary gum or candy can lead to cavities, and it decreases saliva flow that helps rinse away food particles and prevent bacteria buildup.
2. Floss Daily
Kids can start flossing daily as soon as they have two teeth that touch. It’s also important to teach them about a mouth-healthy diet. Limiting sugary drinks and snacks will help reduce the amount of acid that forms on teeth, which leads to cavities.
Children thrive on routine and they are more likely to stick with a good dental hygiene routine if they get involved in the process. Make brushing and flossing a family affair and make it fun. Play music that makes them smile, set a timer to see how well they brush and floss, or turn it into a game like a brushing contest or a floss dance. Kids can even choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste to feel more ownership of the routine.
Encourage them to chew sugar-free gum after a meal or snack to reduce plaque buildup between teeth. They should also eat calcium-rich foods, leafy greens, dairy, nuts and fatty fish. This will ensure their little teeth are strong and healthy. This will prevent gum disease, which can lead to other medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
3. Get Regular Checkups
Tooth decay is the number one dental problem among preschoolers. While it may seem like baby teeth don’t matter because they will eventually fall out, cavities in these first permanent teeth can cause serious dental problems later on.
The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing your kids’ teeth and flossing with them until they can do it on their own. It is also important to make sure your children drink enough fluoridated water – this helps reduce cavities in both baby teeth and permanent ones. If your kids use a water filter, be sure to check that it doesn’t remove fluoride.
Children who have poor oral hygiene are more likely to miss school and perform worse in class than those with healthy smiles. It’s important to get your kids into a dental care kids routine early so that they can develop good habits for life. You can help spark their interest by making tooth cleaning and dental check-ups fun. For example, you can get your kids a new toothbrush that has an interesting design or features their favorite cartoon character. You can also make a chart similar to a chore chart, rewarding them with gold star stickers for successfully brushing and flossing.
4. Have a Healthy Diet
In addition to brushing and flossing, a healthy diet is essential for kids’ dental health. Limit sugary foods and drinks, and provide a variety of mouth-healthy foods such as lean proteins, colorful fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates and low-fat dairy or dairy substitutes with added calcium. Water is also a good choice, as it rinses away food particles and can reduce the risk of cavities.
Avoid giving your children chewy candy, as the sticky substance can remain on their teeth for extended periods of time, providing bacteria with ample opportunity to cause tooth decay. Instead, give them a small amount of sugar-free gum.
Foods such as chicken wings and bone marrows are rich in protein, which can help build healthy teeth. Eggs are also a good source of nutrients that support dental health, including folic acid, phosphorus and calcium. Vegetables like carrots are crunchy and can help remove plaque, while leafy greens contain folic acid, calcium and vitamin K. Getting kids in the habit of brushing, flossing and seeing a dentist on a regular basis can prevent dental problems for a lifetime.
5. Schedule an Appointment
Children are more likely to follow healthy dental practices if they begin at an early age. That’s why it’s important to establish good oral hygiene habits and get kids used to regular checkups, which will help them avoid serious problems later in life.
A child’s first visit to the dentist should occur around the time that their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday, and then every six months after. This will let parents know if their baby has any issues and give them the opportunity to get a better understanding of the best ways to care for their infant’s teeth and gums.
It’s also a good idea to look for a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentistry, as they’ll have specialized training that allows them to understand the unique needs of children. For example, children may suck their thumb or have difficulty giving up a pacifier, which can wreak havoc on developing teeth. A pediatric dentist will know how to nip these issues in the bud. Be sure to pad your appointment by at least 10 minutes, as this will give the provider time to write patient notes, sterilize the room and use the restroom before your arrival.