Every parent wants their child to have healthy teeth and gums. Unfortunately, most children don’t see that need to be as urgent as their parents do! Kids could often go for long stretches of time without taking care of their oral health without the help and prompting of their parent or guardian. You understand, however, that this just isn’t acceptable. So, how can you ensure that your child develops good oral hygiene habits?
Dr. Ben Salar of Toothfairy Pediatric Dental in the Reno area has compiled 12 oral hygiene tips to help your child nurture a winning smile. Consider these important steps:
1. Start Good Habits Early
The first oral hygiene tip for your baby is to make sure you start brushing as soon as their first baby tooth emerges. Water and a soft bristled brush will be sufficient for these early days. Once they reach their first birthday, make sure you make an appointment for your little one’s first visit to the dentist. They will give you advice on how to proceed as primary teeth continue to emerge.
2. Limit Pacifiers and Sippy Cups
As children begin to grow and develop, the need to wean them from items like sippy cups are real. As the baby teeth begin to come in, their placement can be impacted by the constant use of a pacifier or a sippy cup. Wean these from your child as soon as possible.
Also, when putting a young child to bed, make sure that if you give them a drink, you don’t give them a sugary drink like juice or milk. Instead, a bottle of water will be sufficient to keep them hydrated as well as ensuring that developing teeth are not subject to decay. For assistance in this area, talk to your child’s pediatrician and dentist.
3. Remember 2 x 2
You may have seen the commercials from the nonprofit group called the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives. This group of oral health organizations has been on the forefront on television and radio for the past several years with the slogan “2 x 2.” This phrase is a reminder for children to brush twice a day, for two minutes each time they brush. Although this is the most basic oral hygiene tip, dentists agree that it is often the most neglected. Make sure your children brush!
4. Use a Timer for Brushing
The old saying “trust, but verify” is very apt when dealing with teeth brushing. When you ask a child if they brushed for two minutes, they’ll likely say that they did. To help them make sure they brush the entire two minutes, utilize a timer. You can use an hourglass-style timer with sand inside, you can set a timer on your phone, or you can even use a personal assistant like Amazon’s Alexa. Whatever you do, allow your children to have a way to know when they’ve completed their two minutes.
5. Show Your Children How to Brush
An important oral hygiene tip that is often forgotten is that children need to be shown how to brush their teeth. Take your toothbrush and show them the proper strokes as they mimic your movements. Model for them the way to brush the hard-to-reach areas of the mouth, not just their front teeth.
6. Introduce Flossing to Your Child
Once a child has the dexterity to do so, teach them how to floss between their teeth. Again, as with brushing, it’s best for you to model this activity with them until they have a better grasp of it. After your child has learned, check in with them periodically to ensure that they have continued flossing each day.
7. Limit Sugary Snacks and Sodas
Children love their snacks, but of course, we adults do too! Another important oral hygiene tip is to ensure that sugary snacks are limited to special occasions. Sugary drinks like soda are especially detrimental to good oral health. Also, don’t forget that, even though diet drinks don’t have the sugar that their regular counterparts have, they are a poor choice for good dental development.
8. Reward Good Dental Hygiene
Who doesn’t like a reward for doing a good job? Your child certainly does! As your child begins to learn good dental health, consider ways to reward them for their hard work. As one example, create a chart that you can hang in the bathroom. When your child brushes and flosses, they can put a sticker on the chart. After a certain amount of stickers, find a suitable reward that will motivate your child to continue their good oral hygiene. This tip is one they’re sure to love!
9. Consider Dental Sealants
As tooth decay in children has risen to almost epidemic levels, dental sealants have become a great option to protect young teeth. Sealants act as a barrier to the enamel, keeping food from hiding in the cracks and crevices of teeth. Once your baby’s molars begin to cut, it’s the perfect time to talk to your dentist about the connection between sealants and oral hygiene.
10. Schedule Regular Trips to the Dentist
It’s important to make sure your child sees the dentist every six months for their regular cleaning. Your child will receive a thorough examination, and the dentist will determine if additional services will be needed. After the cleaning, the dentist will give you additional oral hygiene tips that are catered to the individual needs of your child. Before you leave, don’t forget to schedule your child’s next appointment! If not, you may end up forgetting and delaying your child’s next visit.
11. Talk to Your Child about the Dentist
Often times, parents have anxiety about visiting the dentist, and they unwittingly pass this on to their children. Have an honest conversation with your child about any anxieties they have about visiting the dentist and work with them about easing their concerns.
12. Consider Sedation Dentistry
Some children are so anxious about visiting the dentist that they may be unwilling to even visit. In these cases, don’t skip visiting the dentist. Instead, ask your dentist about sedation dentistry. Many children have been able to overcome their fear of the dentist due to this valuable service.
Do you have more questions? Contact the team at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental today for more oral hygiene tips and assistance!