Keeping your child healthy is one of the top priorities for any parent, and oral health is one of the more challenging tasks in this overall pursuit. Good dental hygiene habits should start being reinforced at the earliest possible age, and children who gradually become familiar with a routine from the time they are babies are much less likely to be upset when visiting the dentist.
When they are very young, children don’t have the needed motor abilities to properly clean their teeth on their own. It’s up to the parents to make sure their pearly whites stay clean and healthy while teaching them about brushing and flossing at the same time.
Here is how parents should take care of their children’s teeth, according to age.
Before the first teeth come out, you can start cleaning the gums of your infant with a clean cloth or gauze. Dampen the cloth and gently wipe the gums after each feeding, or at least twice a day. This will not only keep their mouth clean, but it also gets them used to the act of cleaning their mouth and teeth.
As your baby starts sitting by themselves, eating solids, and being more and more curious about the world around them, you can introduce the toothbrush and make a game out of cleaning their teeth.
Brushing should start when their very first tooth comes out. You should gently brush, using circular motions. Put a rice-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush and introduce flossing as soon as your child has two teeth next to one another.
Toddlers older than 3 should already be used to having their teeth cleaned at least twice a day. You can start using fluoride toothpaste in a pea-sized amount, and encourage the little ones to try spitting it instead of swallowing it. You can start letting them handle the brush themselves, but always make sure you finish the brushing for them.
Your child now has the ability to brush their teeth properly. Make sure they do it every day, at least twice: once in the morning and once before bedtime. One of the best ways to ensure that your child is brushing regularly is to do it together and lead by example.
Teenagers are often preoccupied with a million other things beside their health and well-being. Remind them regularly that their oral health is very important and introduce them to a dentist they are comfortable with and that they trust.
As you can see, oral health is a lifelong habit and should be encouraged from the very first months of your child’s life. Regular visits to the dentist are equally important.
Dr. Melanie Villalobos and Dr. Margaret Meadows at Coronado Dental Associates provide empathetic and gentle care, which makes children and teens comfortable during any visit.
Book a visit today!