Make Oral Health Care Happy and Important in Your Kids’ Minds
Good dental care routines early can create healthy habits for life.
Children learn from watching and copying their parents, so the best way to teach your kids oral health care and good dental habits is by demonstrating proper brushing techniques early on.
Good habits start early.
Many first-time parents don’t realize that their child should see a dentist by their child’s first birthday. Most children tend to get their first tooth around the age of six months, and dental professionals recommend that a child see the dentist for the first time within six month of the child’s first tooth erupting.
Not only is the first appointment important for your child’s dental care because the dentist will perform a thorough evaluation of their mouth, but the visit is a great time for your child to get used to the sights and sounds of the dental office. It is also the perfect time for parents to ask questions about their child’s dental health, and learn proper brushing techniques for their child.
At home, parents can start their child’s dental health routine even before any teeth have erupted. After feeding, parents can take a clean, soft, damp washcloth and rub it gently over their child’s gums. Parents can make this a bonding experience with their child by looking the child in the eyes, and sharing words of affirmation while gently massaging the gums. This type of activity can instill in children that taking care of their teeth and gums is a happy and routine activity.
Make brushing your teeth a family activity.
As your child gets older, they will start to recognize what their parents and even older siblings are doing, and will want to mimic their activities. So what better way to build some strong family ties than to make brushing your teeth a family affair?
Have everyone in your family brush their teeth at least twice a day—after breakfast and just before bed are good times to get together to brush and floss.
What is the best technique to use when brushing your teeth?
1. Find the toothbrush that is just right.
First, make sure you have the proper toothbrush. Dentists recommend using a soft or ultra soft bristle brush that is the proper size. There are toothbrushes that are made for children, which have a smaller head, and toothbrushes that are slightly larger that are perfect for adults. The right-sized toothbrush should fit comfortably in your child’s mouth and be maneuverable so that they can reach the front and backs of their teeth.
2. Put some fluoride on it.
Next, make sure you choose a toothpaste with fluoride in it. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, often found in water, that helps keep the enamel, or outside layer of the tooth, strong. Look for a seal from the American Dental Association, or ADA, on the toothpaste, which means that the ADA recommends the toothpaste. Many people don’t realize that you don’t need a lot of toothpaste on your toothbrush. For toddlers, dentists recommend using an amount that is equivalent to a grain of rice. For children and adults, the amount of toothpaste used on a toothbrush should be about the size of a pea.
3. Round and round.
Now, it’s time to brush! Using small circles, brush the front and back surface of every single tooth. This isn’t a race—a thorough brushing should take at least two minutes to complete. Some children will hum the nursery rhyme “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” twice while they brush, because doing so takes about two minutes to complete.
4. Get your floss on.
Once a child is old enough, flossing should also be incorporated into their brushing routine. What is the best way to floss? Get a piece of dental floss about 24 inches long and wind it around both of your middle fingers. Leave about an inch of floss between your two fingers. Holding the floss tight with your thumbs and index fingers, gently glide the floss up and down between two of your teeth, making sure to rub the floss gently against all sides of the tooth.
Make sure you do not rub the floss against your gums—this can irritate the gums and even cause them to bleed. Once you are ready to move to a new tooth, use a clean section of dental floss and repeat the process for the rest of your teeth.
What about sealants and fluoride treatments?
If you want to give your child the best dental care possible, ask your dentist about dental sealants and fluoride treatments.
Dental sealants are a clear protective coating that is painted on your child’s back molars. There is no pain involved in the process, and many parents choose to have dental sealants put on their children’s teeth to add a layer of protection against cavities.
Fluoride treatments are another extra treatment that parents often choose for their children. Your dentist will paint a special gel fortified with fluoride on your child’s teeth, and then have them rinse. This extra fluoride treatment helps build the enamel on your child’s teeth, boosting the strength of their teeth.
Visit Sheppard Family Dental Care twice a year.
The best thing you can do for your child’s dental health is to ensure they have a proper daily dental routine. You also need to visit the team at Sheppard Family Dental Care twice a year for dental checkups and cleanings. The Sheppard family takes pride in being a whole family dental practice, meaning everyone from children to grandparents are welcome. If you haven’t seen the team at Sheppard Family Dental lately, be sure to schedule an appointment for you and your family!