Good oral hygiene habits and regular dental care are as important for children as they are for adults. Your child’s oral health journey begins even before their first tooth erupts, and taking care of primary (baby) teeth is just as important as with permanent teeth. In fact, the sooner your kids adopt good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing and going to the dentist for semi-annual checkups and dental cleanings, the less likely they’ll be to suffer from common issues like cavities and anxiety about dental visits.
At Oasis Pediatric Dental Care & Orthodontics, our pediatric dentist, Dr. Nathalie Phaeton, and our orthodontist, Dr. Ki Youn Kil, offer a range of pediatric dentistry services at our office in Falls Church, Virginia.
How to help your child take good care of their teeth at home
For many children (and adults too), taking good care of their teeth can seem like a chore. Depending on their age, children need extra help and encouragement as they learn proper brushing and flossing techniques, how the foods and drinks they consume affect their teeth, and why it’s important to go to the dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.
Make it fun
Oral hygiene might be a routine, but the best way to get your child to embrace it is to make it feel like less of a chore. Start by setting a schedule so they brush and floss at the same time every morning and evening, if possible.
You can get creative depending on your child’s age and what they enjoy, but brushing together will help you monitor their technique and make it a bonding experience where they can learn by watching you brush and floss too. Remember that, on average, the experts recommend changing toothbrushes every three to four months, or when you start to notice frayed bristles.
Some of the things you can do to jazz up brushing and flossing time include:
- Let them pick out their favorite toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride
- Set up a rewards or bonus system, whether it’s a chart where they can track their progress or a reward they can earn
- Set a timer
- Listen to music while you brush and floss
- Let them practice on you or one of their favorite toys
- Tell stories
- Sing or dance
There really is no limit to how creative you can get. The point is to take the pressure off so your child doesn’t dread brushing and flossing their teeth.
Monitor their sugar intake
Sugar is everywhere, and most Americans get way more than the daily recommended amount of sugar without realizing it. Whenever possible, switch out processed and high sugar snacks for more teeth-friendly snacks like apples. Kids don’t have to go on an overly restrictive diet, but if you encourage them to drink more water and add more fruit to their diet, the unhealthy snacks might lose their appeal over time.
Establish a relationship with your pediatric dentist
The earlier children learn to be proactive about their oral health, the more likely they’ll be to take care of their teeth and gums as adults. Our dentists and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend that you schedule your child’s first dental visit by age one, or six months after the first tooth erupts (whichever comes first).
Having a “dental home” with a dentist they know and trust is an important tool in your child’s oral healthcare. And at your next appointment, ask us if dental sealants are a good option to help protect your child’s teeth from cavities.
Great oral health and hygiene begin at home. For more information about how to care for your child’s teeth in between visits to the dentist, call us at 703-498-2440 today, or schedule an appointment online.