Your child’s health and safety are top priorities. Their oral hygiene should be one of your top priorities too. Dental health is a vital part of every child’s total health, which starts with parents. You can give your kid a great start, so he or she has healthy gums and teeth his or her entire life. Here’s what to know about treating your child’s dental health at each stage.
Dental Hygiene for Younger Children (Infants)
Most babies start to get their teeth a few months after birth. Some infants have one or more teeth when they are born (referred to as natal teeth). The roots have already formed beneath the gums when babies are born. You may not be able to see the teeth yet, but they are there. Normally, infants start to teeth approximately six months after birth. It is vital to begin good oral hygiene practice while your baby is younger. The healthier the gums are, the healthier the teeth will be.
- After your baby eats or drinks milk, you should use a clean, damp face cloth to wipe his or her gums. You could give your infant some water in a baby bottle. These actions help clean out any bacteria, which could cause gum issues, nursing decay, or “bottle rot”.
- It is a good idea to take your baby’s bottle away from them once they are finished drinking. If they start to fall asleep with the bottle in their mouth, it could allow bacteria to grow, which can cause issues such as Thrush, milk tongue, or nursing decay.
- Brushing your infant’s gums and teeth should start when they are about six months old. One way to help your child learn about brushing their gums and teeth is to allow them to witness you brushing your gums and teeth. (Consult a Dentist regarding how much toothpaste to use and which kind to use).
- Get a soft-bristle toothbrush for your little one.
- Some parents take their infants to a dentist as soon as their child’s teeth start to come through the gums. Some parents wait until their babies are around six months old, but most parents schedule a dental appointment before their child is one year old.
Dental Hygiene for Older Children
As children get older, their dental hygiene practices should continue to include age-appropriate habits. Children typically have their first set of teeth (primary teeth) by the age of three. At about age six, their first tooth may fall out and permanent teeth start to grow in. If there are gaps between your six-year old’s teeth, that is normal. The gaps allow his or her permanent teeth room to start coming in. All permanent teeth generally have grown in by the age of thirteen.
How to Develop the Best Dental Hygiene Schedule for Kids
Beginning at age three, you can develop a schedule to help keep your little one’s gums and teeth strong and healthy. Here are some ways you can accomplish that:
- Dentists recommend using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste (containing fluoride). It is also advisable to make sure your little one does not swallow toothpaste and learns how to rinse and spit properly during and after brushing.
- It is important that your child brushes for two minutes or so, twice daily.
- Once teeth have grown in and there is a space where dental floss will fit, you can begin to floss your child’s teeth for them.
- Help your child brush properly.
- Take your child to a dentist once every six months.
Pre-Teens – Dental Hygiene
Do you want to help your older children avoid getting cavities or gum disease? You might want to encourage them to continue with a good oral hygiene routine. They should brush twice daily, and floss at least once daily. Using a fluoride mouth rinse once daily before bed is not a bad idea either.
It is a good idea to limit sugary foods and drinks as well. It seems easy but there are times when life gets hectic. Pre-teens might forget to brush their gums and teeth, so you might need to remind them to do it. Pre-teens should visit a dentist every six months or so too.
Encouraging Pre-Teens in Other Ways:
- An electric toothbrush might help encourage your older children because it might make brushing more fun.
- Remind your child what happens when they do not take care of their teeth and gums – it could result in tooth decay, stains, gum disease, pain, infection, or more.
- If your child plays sports, encourage them to wear protective gear like a mouthguard that protects the teeth.
- Children who have braces should brush and rinse more often. Otherwise, their teeth might have white spots all over them when the braces are removed.
Schedule an Appointment
It’s extremely important to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and a confident smile. If your child struggles to practice good dental hygiene habits, we can offer advice and good tips on establishing good habits. To schedule an appointment, contact us by calling or filling out our online form.
Dr. Michelle Anderson is a pediatric dentist board certified by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.