Children’s oral health is vital to their overall health and establishes precedents for their dental hygiene for the rest of their lives. It is essential to take care of babies and toddlers’ teeth and gums, and crucial to establish good oral hygiene habits from a very young age. Parents and guardians should be good role models of these oral health behaviours so that their children will understand the importance of taking care of their gums and teeth.
Early Prevention - Checkup
Early preventative dental care begins with regular check-ups for your child. Dental check-ups are essential once children’s milk teeth come in. Bi-annual check-ups, usually once every six months, will help ensure that your child’s teeth grow healthy and strong. This can reduce the need for extensive orthodontic care as they grow older.
Brushing At An Early Age
Tooth-brushing habits with your child should begin around age two. Until then, brushing can be done with a gentle toothbrush and warm water by the parent. Infant dental hygiene can be maintained with a soft washcloth to wipe away bacteria.
When your child turns two, they can hold the toothbrush and use warm water or child-safe toothpaste to gently clean their teeth. This is the time to show them proper techniques, such as how to hold the toothbrush, how to get all sides of their teeth, and how long to brush for.
Your child should also learn how to spit and rinse after brushing to avoid swallowing the toothpaste. When your child turns six, they can incorporate regular toothpaste with a soft-bristled brush.
Oral Hygiene Routine
As a role model, you can make tooth brushing a fun family activity. You should help your child learn a structured oral hygiene routine so that they will continue these good practices for the rest of their lives.
Your oral hygiene routine should include:
- Brushing twice a day
- Utilizing the tip of the brush to reach behind the front teeth
- Cleaning the inside surfaces of the teeth in a gentle, back-and-forth motion
- Tongue brushing
- A well-balanced diet low in sugar
- Drinking plenty of lukewarm water
For more information on how you can establish a good dental routine for your child, your local dental clinic in Farnham can help you choose the right toothbrushes, toothpaste, and help you determine a dental-friendly diet for your child.
Keep Gums Clean
When your child is an infant or toddler, keep their gums clean even if they don’t have many teeth yet. Bacteria and plaque can build up along the gum line and compromise their oral health. Use a soft washcloth or gauze with warm water to rub your child’s gums once per day, or after each meal.
Watch For Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
While it may be tempting to allow your baby to fall asleep with the bottle in their mouth, that extended time of sugars left in your child’s mouth can cause tooth decay, also sometimes called “bottle rot.” Breast milk, formula, and juices can all cause baby bottle tooth decay.
Not only does putting your baby to bed with a bottle raise the potential of bottle tooth decay, but it also soothes them in a way that can’t be maintained as they grow older. Children should be fed during waking hours and put to bed with a satisfied stomach.
Avoid Sugary Foods
Sugary foods promote a bacteria-friendly environment in the mouth that can accelerate tooth decay and gingivitis. They cause a build-up in plaque acids, and this is detrimental to the strength and health of your child’s teeth because these acids attack the enamel in a process called demineralization.
Sticky, dried fruits can also be challenging to remove from the teeth’s surface, and most contain a lot of sugar. Sugar-free snacks that are naturally sweet can satisfy your child’s sweet cravings without creating a degenerative environment for their teeth.
It’s crucial to establish a routine as soon as your child is born that promotes healthy gums and teeth. Teaching your child to brush and floss early, along with maintaining a healthy diet, will keep their teeth strong and healthy throughout their lives.
Dr. Taher Rashid is an award-nominated restorative and cosmetic dentist in Farnham at Time Dental Practice, for affordable private dental care at its best. He is a certified facial wrinkle clinician specializing in six-month smiles, and Clear smile braces. He is also an Inman aligner and Invisalign provider, which are the latest treatments for straightening teeth.