“Did you brush your teeth?”
The typical question we ask our kids on their way to bed isn’t necessarily a bad one. Children need to, at the very least, brush their teeth before they go to bed. Yet, complete oral hygiene for kids is about more than simply brushing teeth at bedtime.
At Tooth Fairy we feel that it’s important to give each child a comprehensive exam and cleaning every six months to provide in-office preventive dental services. But even the best children’s dental care has to start at home. Here are a few oral hygiene basics we like to remind our patients (and their parents) when they visit our office.
Oral Hygiene For Kids: Toddlers and Teething
The foundations of good oral care actually begin before the first teeth erupt from the gums. To give your infant the best oral care possible, it’s important to clean their mouth after every feeding or meal. This can simply be done with a damp piece of gauze, a clean washcloth, or a special rubber tool made especially for cleaning a baby’s gums.
Why is cleaning a toddler’s mouth so important? Because removing excess milk, formula, or food particles from the gums helps keep bacteria from growing. If bacteria is allowed to fester in the child’s mouth, it can cause an infection to the baby (or even a nursing mother). Clean, healthy gums will be an advantage when the process of teething begins
Oral Hygiene For Kids: Baby’s First Tooth
Once a child’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start brushing! Of course, your child is probably about one year old, so you won’t want to hand them a toothbrush just yet. For now, brush the singular tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You can use a kid-friendly fluoride toothpaste, but use no more than the size of a pea. Your little one will likely want to swallow the paste, so keep it to a minimum!
Once the first tooth comes in, schedule your baby’s first dentist visit. Ideally, their first visit should be either at their first birthday or six months after their first tooth comes in. The dentist will want to check their teeth and gums, do a basic cleaning, and enquire about your child’s overall health. From this point on, your little one will need to see the dentist every six months to maintain the basics of oral hygiene.
Oral Hygiene For Kids: Are They Brushing Properly?
As your child gets older, it’s time to hand the toothbrush over to them. Now, they have the responsibility of maintaining their own teeth and gums. Yet as a parent, you’ll still want to ensure they’re not slacking off on their duties. Check to ensure that they’re:
- Brushing twice a day: As you can see, oral hygiene is more than brushing teeth, but you’ve still got to make sure they’re actually brushing their teeth! Children sometimes skip their time to brush after breakfast and dinner, so every once and a while check to make sure they’re not short-changing their tooth brushing time.
- Brushing two minutes each time: Although many children know they’re supposed to brush twice daily, we’ve found far fewer actually brush for the recommended two minutes. Encourage your child to set a timer on a phone or tablet to help them remember to brush for the duration of the two minutes.
- Brushing with a fresh toothbrush: A toothbrush should be changed every three months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed. By brushing with a sub-par toothbrush, your child will be ineffective at sweeping away plaque and bacteria.
Oral Hygiene For Kids: Flossing Daily
Here’s something that kids (and adults) often neglect: flossing! Most kids don’t naturally like to floss their teeth. But with training, they can make it part of their daily routine. Here’s a few tips to remind your child one of the basics of oral hygiene when it comes to flossing.
- Keep floss handy on the bathroom counter. Out of sight is often out of mind. Create a visual reminder by keeping the floss on the counter next to the sink.
- Consider using individual floss picks. These pre-strung pieces of plastic are often sold in bags. Instead of measuring floss and wrapping it between your fingers, a floss pick is always at the ready— and so simple to use!
- Make sure you’re flossing too. “Do as I say, and not as I do,” is not the best way to teach your kids the best habits. If your child sees you flossing on a regular basis, they’re more likely to be convinced of the importance of flossing in their own life.
Oral Hygiene For Kids: Dental Sealants
After your child’s permanent teeth come in, you may find that your child is having difficulty maintaining their new adult teeth. This is not uncommon, especially if your child’s teeth have pits and crevices that make cleaning the teeth more difficult.
In situations like these, your pediatric dentist may recommend dental sealants to help maintain your child’s teeth. The process is simple and easy, and the clear sealants acts as a protective shell, keeping food particles from lodging in the pits and fissures of the teeth. Ask your child’s pediatric dentist if sealants are an option for your child.
Oral Hygiene For Kids At Tooth Fairy Dentistry
If you live in the area of Reno, consider Tooth Fairy Dentistry. Our expert staff will ensure your child has the best oral care possible. With 6 offices in and around Reno ready to serve you, we have a convenient location nearby. Many of our offices are open in the evening and on Saturday, making obtaining quality oral hygiene for your kids even more simple.
Tooth Fairy Dentistry accepts most forms of dental insurance, including Medicaid.. We believe every child should have access to quality dental care, and we’ll do everything we can to assist your family.
Contact us today and schedule your child’s appointment!