You may have mastered your own oral health, but what about your kids? Teaching your children how to take care of their teeth from day one will set them up for success in the future. In addition to modeling good behavior by brushing and flossing your own teeth every day, there are things you can do at every stage of your child’s life to give them a bright and healthy smile for a lifetime.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to wait until your baby gets his first tooth to start brushing. Even before your baby begins teething, daily use a warm washcloth to gently clean the gums of any remaining germs and bacteria. Once the first tooth breaks the surface of the gums, use a baby-designated toothbrush and toothpaste, such as Colgate’s My First Baby Toothpaste and Toothbrush set, and gently brush baby’s teeth. Many parents choose to use a fluoride-free toothpaste for this age group because it is safe if swallowed. If you decide to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, only use a dot the size of a grain of rice to minimize how much she swallows.
Even babies at this age can get cavities, and there are things you can do to help prevent this. In addition to brushing baby’s teeth twice a day, avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup. Sugars from the milk, juice, or formula that linger on teeth for hours throughout the night can wear away enamel and cause tooth decay.
The American Dental Association recommends that children go to the dentist for the first time before their first birthday. At this first visit, your baby will sit on your lap while the dentist does a quick inspection of baby’s teeth and gums. Not only does this early visit help the dentist ensure everything looks good in your child’s mouth, but it also allows your child to get used to going to the dentist regularly.
Once your child’s baby teeth begin touching, you should start flossing her teeth daily. This can happen before the age of three, but oftentimes baby teeth are more spaced out than adult teeth. There are several kinds of kid-friendly flossers that make it easier for parents to floss kids’ teeth and that come in fun flavors that kids love.
By the time your child is three, he should learn how to spit after brushing and be ready for fluoride toothpaste. You still only need to use a small amount, about the size of a corn kernel. At this stage of your child’s life, she will probably begin gaining independence and brushing her own teeth. Consider taking turns with your child, letting him brush his teeth for the first minute and then letting you brush them for the second minute. This helps your child learn the proper technique while also forming healthy habits independently.
Around the age of nine, your dentist will start to evaluate if your child needs braces. Overcrowded teeth, an irregular bite, and crooked teeth are just a few reasons why your dentist may recommend braces. Making sure the jaw is perfectly aligned will prevent future problems and discomfort. Straightening out the teeth not only gives your child a confident smile, but it also makes cleaning teeth much easier and helps your child avoid cavities.
By this age, it is incredibly important that you are teaching healthy oral hygiene habits to your children. Encourage them to brush and floss every single day, stock the fridge with healthy food and drinks that are low in sugar, and make sure they are visiting their dentist twice a year. If you are looking for a dentist for your child, no matter what stage of life they’re in, we would love to help you at Cornerstone Family Dentistry. Make an appointment with us today!