It is never too early for your children to begin practicing good dental hygiene. Even before their baby teeth erupt, kids need proper dental care to protect their mouths and set them on a path to good habits later in life. As a parent, you should follow these considerations for your children’s dental health.
Begin Brushing Early
You can brush your baby’s gums using a toothbrush and water before they begin teething to get them used to this action. When children have teeth, they should brush at least twice a day.
Show them how to do it properly, and continue to monitor them until they are at least seven years old, as toothbrushes can be difficult to maneuver and get in all the right places. Allow kids to pick out their own toothpaste and toothbrush to make this activity more enjoyable. Make sure they use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Floss Every Day
Too many kids brush but do not floss. They can begin doing it themselves at age four. Get your kids comfortable with flossing by doing it together every night. It is fun for children to mimic their parents’ activities, and you can enjoy some extra time together before bed.
Show the Connection Between Food Choices and Teeth
Good nutrition helps keep teeth healthy. Emphasize the importance of good food choices, and explain how eating too much sugar can lead to cavities. It’s never too early to make these connections for kids. Explain that choosing water over soda can keep their teeth stronger, and eating foods like hard cheese, apples and carrots will naturally clean the teeth after a meal when they cannot grab their toothbrush.
Of course, everyone wants a treat sometimes. Tell kids to eat those sugary extras with a meal, which produces more saliva and will help wash away the sugar.
Monitor for Cavities
Even the most diligent brushers can get cavities. Keep an eye on your child’s mouth for evidence of cavities forming. They may be at risk of developing a cavity if they:
- Had a low birth weight
- Were delivered early
- Have teeth with white spots or bigger brown splotches
- Do not get to the dentist a lot
- Discuss Mouth Safety
Does your child play a sport? An errant field hockey stick or flyaway bat can result in a dental emergency even for the most careful of athletes. Talk to your child about wearing a mouth guard when they participate in sports, which can protect them from oral trauma. Your dentist can create a custom mouth guard for them.