Ah, kids! There are so many things to know about raising them in a way that helps them become the best version of themselves. Equipping your child with the necessary tools for good personal hygiene habits should be a top priority of every parent, as the messages children receive from a young age will be carried with them into adulthood. Teeth brushing might sound like a detail minor enough that it could be ignored, but it is an important aspect of self-care that could cause physical and mental setbacks if not taken seriously.
Here we have compiled a set of guidelines that begin with infancy and segue into the teenage years to help you instill the best practices and habits into your child for lifelong oral-care.
Gum Care for Babies
This may come as a surprise to some parents, but babies need oral-care too! Since babies are born with all their teeth (hidden in their gums), they start to break through the gums in as early as six months. Dentists recommend that babies gums are wiped with a washcloth after each feeding to remove the bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Starting good oral-care for infants even before the first teeth come in sets the tone for healthy habits!
Bring Your Child to the Dentist when Their First Tooth Erupts
Unless their first birthday comes first, then take them to the dentist at that time! Once teeth begin to erupt, they should be brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than the size of a grain of rice using a soft-bristle toothbrush.
Have you ever heard of baby bottle tooth decay? Don’t get in the habit of giving your baby a bottle at night to soothe them back to sleep! Juice and milk both contain sugar which sits on your child’s teeth overnight. Over time this can result in a breakdown of enamel leading to tooth decay.
How to Select Your Child’s First Toothbrush
When you first start brushing your child’s teeth, beware! Few children love brushing their teeth from the get-go. Their love for teeth brushing will be cultivated in time (with our great tips listed below).
The best place to start is to find a toothbrush that fits comfortably in their hands and allows them to easily navigate around the inside of their mouth. Their first toothbrush should have soft bristles that are made of a round-ended or “polished” material. These types of toothbrushes do a great job of cleaning your child’s teeth but aren’t rough enough to irritate their gums. Not surprisingly their gums are sensitive and need gentle care and maintenance.
Brush Your Child’s Teeth Until They Have Developed Good Habits
As an adult, it’s hard to remember the experience of brushing your teeth for the first time, so it’s best to be patient with your little one. Begin the process by making them feel comfortable. Have them sit down, give them a toy, maybe hum a familiar tune to keep them distracted.
Once your child’s teeth start erupting in more places than one, their teeth are going to start touching. It’s at this time that you need to teach them the important habit of flossing. Flossing should be done morning and night to keep debris from accumulating on their teeth. Dental product companies have developed fun looking flossers with children in mind too, and some of them even have flavours added that make an un-exciting task a little more appealing to little ones.
Creating a positive experience is key to turning tasks into habits. It also helps to brush at the same time each night as this further helps build patterns to reinforce their behaviour.
Reward Systems To Make Teeth Brushing Fun
Treats are an obvious exclusion here, but rewarding your children for brushing their teeth is a great way to ensure they become proactive. Giving them an extra few minutes of tech-time or playtime, after they brush their teeth, is a great way of teaching them not only oral-hygiene but the basic benefits for good behaviour as well.
Another idea is to create a tooth brushing chart (or use this one that we’ve sourced here). This one’s great because it has a space to add a sticker each morning and night. It’s also created in a way that’s visually appealing and looks fun for little ones. At the end of the week, they can cash in their completed chart for a prize!
Take Your Child to the Dentist for a Cleaning Every Six Months
Even as adults we struggle with proper oral hygiene. Most of us have passed out in front of the television only to wake up the next morning, with unbrushed teeth, covered in crumbs from a late-night snack from time to time (or maybe it’s just us?).
Breaking these habits is extremely difficult when they’re carried through to adulthood from infancy, especially without proper guidance as a child. Including all our tips for your child will help them enter adulthood better prepared to keep their teeth healthy and pearly white.
Even the most stringent brushers and flossers face issues. Some of us are just born with teeth and gums that are susceptible to issues. That’s why it’s so important to not only develop healthy habits but to regularly visit your dentist. Regular check-ups are an important preventative measure for both children and adults to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s teeth, please reach out to us at Heritage Orthodontics. We’re a top 1% Invisalign provider and we have all the information that you need to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.