As parents, what we teach our kids about taking care of themselves sets a foundation that they will build upon for the rest of their lives. This includes eating right, exercising, visiting the doctor — and learning about oral health. One of the best things you can do for your children is to teach them how to take care of their teeth and gums from an early age. This can make the difference between whether they keep their natural teeth in tip-top shape into old age or end up spending countless hours in the dentist’s chair for pricey restorative procedures.
Instill Habits Early On
Just because a child doesn’t have teeth yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to his or her oral health. In fact, oral hygiene can start in the days right after birth! Before teeth appear, make it a habit of wiping down your baby’s gums every day with a moistened piece of gauze or a soft washcloth. This cleans away bacteria plus acclimatizes baby to a routine. Once that very first tooth appears, decay is possible, so it’s time to switch to brushing twice a day with a baby toothbrush and toothpaste. When a baby has two teeth that touch, you should introduce flossing once per day.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that babies go for their first dental visit within six months of the eruption of the first tooth or by their first birthday.
Make Oral Hygiene Fun
One of the best ways to get your kids into the habit of brushing and flossing is to turn it from a chore into a good time.
- Kids love mimicking mom and dad! Brush together and your child will not only observe and learn proper technique but take pride in brushing just like you.
- Whether your kid loves Dora, Thomas, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a toothbrush featuring a favorite character makes the routine much more fun!
- There are a number of lively ways to ensure your child brushes for the full two minutes recommended by the ADA. There are apps you can download on your phone and toothbrushing songs available on YouTube. A lower-tech option is a colorful sand timer to pass the time.
- Kids love imaginative play with dolls and stuffies — including “brushing” their teeth before their own.
- Start a rewards chart system. Many free templates are available online. For every good brushing session, your child gets a sticker to place on the chart. Once the child accumulates a certain number of stickers, he or she gets a reward (preferably one that’s teeth-friendly)!
Visit TK Dental Care Every Six Months
By sticking to a schedule of twice-yearly cleanings and exams, you instill in your children the importance of regular dental visits. At Martins Dental Partners of Beverly, MA, we love our patients of all ages and strive to make your little ones comfortable and at ease. Call us at 978-288-1946 or contact us online to request appointments for your family.