A parent has many responsibilities when it comes to raising and grooming a child, and one of these is maintaining and teaching them about oral hygiene at a daily basis. Building the habits of good dental cleaning from an early stage leads to better overall health in the child’s life. A proper daily preventive home care regimen is vital from the day a child is born, and even more from the time their first tooth erupts. This is because a tooth is at risk of decay from the moment it grows out of the gum.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that tooth decay or childhood caries has become the most common chronic disease in children in the US. Tooth decay is the prime factor behind tooth loss. In order to avoid cavities and tooth decay, a parent has to build a dental care routine in the child’s life from the beginning. The first step is by taking them to a dentist when the child’s first tooth has appeared. This helps in overcoming a child’s fear from the dentist, and it aids in maintaining their teeth cleaning. The dentist also provides the parent information on ways to encourage oral care upkeep for the child at home. Schedule an appointment after every six months for your child with the dentist to keep healthy teeth and gums.
We at Dr. Steven Markowitz DDS dental office want to help parents make their jobs at home on oral care routines as easy and effective as possible. We provide parents with advises and literature to educate a parent and child on caring for their teeth properly to improve the child’s quality of life from the start.
Here are some tips we provide adults to practice at home to encourage a child’s habit on healthy oral care:
- For an infant, rinse the mouth with the help of a damp cloth every time they have had a feeding.
- When an infant’s first tooth comes out, use a small and soft-bristled rubber toothbrush with water to rub over the tooth and gums. Toothpaste should not be introduced without consulting a dentist.
- Baby bottle tooth decay and teeth misalignment are common in kids who stick to the bottle and pacifiers till after they are two years old. Wean your child off of breast and bottle milk as soon as they are one year old, and avoid excessive finger and pacifier sucking.
- Set a morning and bedtime routine of brushing your teeth together. Keep in mind that every child is impressionable and they like to follow what the elders do. Brushing your teeth together reinforces regular brushing and it also sets an example of habitual teeth cleaning.
- Floss your teeth in front of them, and then floss theirs. Flossing should begin with a child when they have two teeth that are touching, which is by the age of 2. Let them practice flossing on artificial teeth.
- A child should begin brushing their teeth on their own when they have coordinated enough to do it properly. This is when they may be around five or six years old. Same goes for flossing; when they learn to brush, they will be able to floss properly too. But usually, they learn flossing properly by the age of 8.
- To encourage them, let the child pick out their toothbrush and toothpaste from the grocery store. Most toothbrushes have cartoon characters they may be attracted to. Remember to replace the toothbrush after every three months of usage. Toothpaste should be used no more than a pea-size amount on the brush, as it offers sufficient fluoride and protection from fluorosis to the child’s tooth.
- The ideal time to brush a set of teeth is 2 minutes. To motivate a child to hold on to cleaning that long may be a hassle! But if you install some encouraging apps on your smartphones, they may be excited on the timing. These apps have timers, indicators, and music that keep children enthusiastic throughout teeth cleaning.
- Speak to your dentist about good fluoride treatments and check whether your water is fluoridated with the community’s water department.
- Diet is an important factor in a child’s oral care and health. Avoid frequent consumption of sugary liquids and snacks to your child as it leads to tooth decay. Taking milk, juices or sodas before going to bed leads to the promotion of cavities and tooth decay. Starchy snacks like chips and crackers need to be limited in their diet. Offer starchy foods or drinks with meals instead of snacks, as it will mash with the food consumed, and then rinse their mouth after they are done.
To determine and familiarize your child’s dental and oral health milestones, visit us at our dental office when you see your child’s first tooth, and we will provide you with the best guidance and techniques on brushing and caring for their smile.