8 tips to improve your child’s dental care
Establishing good dental habits is incredibly important for your child’s health to prevent tooth decay now and in the future. This set of helpful tips will make sure you’re getting the most benefit from the time you devote to your children’s dental health.
1. Baby teeth are just as important as permanent teeth.
Baby teeth serve many important roles in your child’s development. They serve as place- and space-holders for the permanent teeth. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, it may cause crowding when the permanent teeth come in. Additionally, if there’s dental decay left in the baby teeth, not only could it cause pain and swelling for your child, but it could affect the adult tooth developing underneath. Even worse, the infection could spread to other parts of the body.
This set of helpful tips will help to make sure you are getting the most benefit from the time you devote to your children’s dental health
2. Don’t let your kids brush their teeth unsupervised.
It may seem harmless to let your kids brush their teeth on their own while you finish up one final email email or clean up that last dish before you sit down to read stories and put them to bed. However, you should supervise your child’s brushing until at least age 7. They will not likely get to all the hard-to-reach places, so should follow up with a final, thorough brushing.
3. Make sure you budget enough time for brushing.
In addition to monitoring your child during brushing, keep in mind that children require a longer schedule that includes a recommended two-minute brushing, flossing, and parental follow-up. Using a two-minute sand timer, such as the options available online or from a pharmacist are good ways to teach kids how much time to spend brushing. There are also several free teeth-brushing apps for your phone or tablet.
Note you should not brush your child’s teeth within an hour of eating, especially after eating or drinking anything particularly sugar-laden, as the enamel will be weak. It generally takes about an hour for the mouth to return to normal, so brushing before that can damage the enamel, which can lead to tooth erosion.
4. Choose the correct size and type of toothbrush.
Teeth-brushing requires a lot of dexterity, and kids won’t develop sufficient manual dexterity until they can write in cursive. Giving them a toothbrush that is too big or has bristles that are too hard make the task even more difficult and can damage the gums.
5. Don’t have your child rinse their mouth out with water after brushing.
Rinsing will wash away the fluoride left behind by brushing. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children under the age of 2 should use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste, and kids aged 2 to 5 need a pea-sized dollop.
6. Don’t wet the toothbrush before using it.
This one is not commonly known; wet/soft bristles are less effective at brushing.
7. Start flossing early
Raise your hand if you don’t floss regularly. Raise both hands if the thought of helping your kids floss or getting them to floss themselves seems like torture. When baby teeth touch, cavities can form in between the crevices where the toothbrush can’t reach, just like in permanent teeth. Flossing will prevent these cavities from forming. Plus, the earlier you introduce flossing into their routine, the more comfortable they will be with it and the better flossing habits they will develop. To make flossing easier for kids, try these tips:
- There are many kid flossers available that are easier for kids and parent-helpers to manipulate. While they are disposable, you can reuse them a few times before pitching them.
- Make a game out of flossing, by assigning points between kids and parents or between siblings or use a star or sticker chart. Dole out rewards for brushing and flossing.
- Floss together as a family; by setting a good example, you’ll up your own dental game.
8. Don’t use the dentist as a form of punishment.
Never threaten, “If you don’t brush, you’ll get a cavity and will have to go to the dentist,” as this makes the dentist someone who should be feared. Reward your children for brushing their teeth every day and use positive reinforcement with special treats, like extra screen time or a special family dinner.
Your child should have their first dental appointment around their first birthday and at least every six months after that. Again, making the dentist a standard practice, and not something to be dreaded, will help ensure your child practices good dental care throughout their life.
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Posted In: Pediatric Dental Care