Top 5 Ways for Easing Kids Into Good Oral Hygiene Habits
- March 4th, 2019
- Info & Tips
A lot of kids grow up dreading visits to the dentist because they have negative associations with the dentist — for any number of reasons — but there are many ways you can prevent this developing, or help reduce their fears if they’ve already built up a phobia.
Ninety percent of the time, children’s dentists are actually hard at work preventing tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease in your little ones to avoid the full-blown dental problems — the stuff that their nightmares are made of. Everyone knows that when it comes to dental care, prevention is key, so how can you make your kids love following an oral care routine that involves good hygiene at home and regular visits to their dentist without the fear?
With these tried-and-tested tips, you can quickly ease little ones into an oral care routine even as they start teething, so they’ll grow up with strong and healthy teeth, without dreading every visit.
Brush with Fluoride Toothpaste
A lot of parents opt for kiddie-toothpaste when training their children to get in the habit of brushing their teeth. These kinds of toothpaste are non-fluoridated and are advertised as being safe to swallow, as opposed to fluoride toothpaste that adults are used to. But is the tradeoff worth it? Let’s investigate:
The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
With Brushing Comes Flossing
A lot of people regularly brush their teeth, but not everyone flosses — and like any dentist worth their salt would say, that’s not enough.
Some parents think that kids should get into the habit of flossing only once their permanent teeth grow in. That’s because they see primary teeth to be a bit more spaced out, so the bristles of a toothbrush should be able to scoop out morsels of food and plaque — but that’s not right. In fact, children’s dentists advise parents to teach kids to start flossing as early as possible. You can start kids off with disposable flossers and apply gentle pressure to pull the floss firmly against the sides of each tooth. While some kids are uncomfortable with the sensation, you can implement a reward system to incentivize them — just steer clear of candy!
Brush Before the First Tooth
That’s right — brushing can start even before their first tooth comes out. Children’s dentists recommend using infant tooth and gum wipes once a day once you start feeding your little ones with solid food. It’s important to clean their mouth as this prevents cavity-causing bacteria from building up, especially in the folds of the tongue. As well, make sure to avoid saliva-sharing behaviours, as simply sharing spoons or cups can easily compromise their teeth that are yet to grow; much like their immune system, their oral health is yet to develop and can easily be affected by cavity-causing bacteria commonly found in adults’ mouths.
Once their first tooth comes out, switch to a soft-bristled kids’ toothbrush and use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste. Make it a habit to brush your kids’ teeth at least twice a day, such as after breakfast and dinner. Once their 6-year molars grow in, pay extra attention to how they brush their teeth and make sure that they reach all the way to the back to prevent cavities and tooth decay of ideally the strongest teeth.
Good Technique Beats Brushing Time
Every parent has probably read somewhere that they should be brushing kids’ teeth for two minutes. But according to children’s dentists, good oral care has more to do with the technique you use than simply watching the clock.
The reality is, it’s challenging to get a fussy two-year-old to sit still while brushing their teeth; plus, if they only have a handful of teeth out, a thorough clean can be achieved in well under two minutes. That’s why it’s the technique that matters more.
Children’s dentists teach parents that the best way to brush kids’ teeth is avoiding aggressively brushing back and forth, as this only leads to damaging the teeth and gums. Instead, tilt the bristles towards the gums and make sure to gently brush in tiny circles, while touching the surface of each tooth. Not only is this gentle clean more comfortable, but it also prevents damage to growing teeth.
Establish a ‘Dental Home’
A lot of kids grow up fearing dentists and dreading every visit, so it’s important to change that early on. While maintaining good dental care at home is a good first step in prevention, getting kids in the habit of seeing a children’s dentist is key to keeping their oral health in check. By taking your kids to a dentist close to your home, they also establish a sense of comfort in their ‘dental home’, which makes it easy for their dentist to regularly monitor their development and treat symptoms of tooth decay and cavities as early as possible.
Schedule Your Kids’ First Visit to a Children’s Dentist
Adults are often told that it’s best to see their dentist for a check-up and cleaning every six months, so think about scheduling your kids’ visits at the same frequency to start with. Pediatrics recommend scheduling a child’s first dentist appointment around the time of their first birthday. During their first visit, your children’s dentist will conduct a thorough oral exam and obtain a dental history. Using their findings, they are able to recommend the right frequency for scheduling your kids’ visit, as well as give you tips on caring for their teeth and gums at home.
An early visit to a children’s dentist at Smile Town also allows our dentists to assess your kids’ risk for developing dental issues and treat them preventatively. Early signs of decay can be treated with fluoride to strengthen teeth, or shallow fillings can be made to avoid the need for extensive and painful restorative procedures. And if you’re worried about cost, check with your insurance provider first — a lot of plans these days include pediatric dental care.
For more information about instilling good oral hygiene habits in your children, call Smile Town at 866-533-9440 or contact us here.