As soon as your kids start walking, they will gradually become more and more independent. As they do, it’s perfectly normal for all toddlers and preschool kids to explore the world, learn new things, and do stuff on their own. That is also an ideal time for you as parents to step in and teach your kids essential, self-care skills that will form the base of their future routine.
Teaching your children dental hygiene is a valuable investment in their ongoing oral health. From the moment they come out, teeth can start to decay, so proper care is crucial right from the start.
The best way for your child to learn dental care is by watching you and their older siblings. Establishing good oral hygiene habits at an early age has many benefits, most of all, it helps children maintain their teeth strong and healthy as they grow and develop.
Taking care of baby teeth
Although every child is unique, their first teeth start appearing when they’re between 6 and 10 months old, and by the age of 3, all of their 20 teeth should be present. As soon as they start coming out, you should start the care – first, do it by rubbing them with a washcloth, and then, when they’re about 18 months old, you can give them an appropriate baby toothbrush with a small amount of baby fluoride toothpaste rubbed in to chew on. When they get used to cleaning their teeth this early on, oral hygiene will become second nature. If they are used to having their mouth cleaned for as long as they can remember, then cleaning their teeth every day will come much more naturally to them.
At this point, you’re responsible for their dental habits, but make sure you don’t do it for too long. You should explain the brushing technique to them and give them more autonomy later as they will enjoy it since they generally have very little to say when it comes to making decisions about their life at that stage.
Visiting the Dentist
While learning the proper brushing technique is very important, the best thing you can do for your child’s dental health is to find a great dentist for them. Providing a positive and pleasant dental experience for your children is going to shape their outlook for the future.
Your child’s first visit to the family dentist should be within 6 months of their first tooth emerging. At that point, the dentist can assess your child’s dental growth and development and ensure there are no hidden issues. Before the visit, talk to your child about where you are going and why, what is going to happen, and why it is so important to have regular dental check-ups.
Have a positive attitude and make sure you resolve your personal anxieties before you leave. Children are highly intuitive and will pick up on any reservations or fears you might have. Also, make sure the dentist checks your child’s tooth and jaw alignment. If there’s a need for orthodontic work, the earlier it starts, the more effective it will be.
Helping kids by educating them
The best way to teach your kids is by your own example. Be present, lead the way and help them be aware of all the aspects of dental hygiene, from brushing to flossing and using mouthwash. Most of all, educate them about bad influences such as sugar. Teach them how bad it is for their teeth, which foods and beverages have them in high amounts, and why it is important to avoid them. Do the same with their snacks – focus on healthy, nutritious foods that are good for their teeth and make sure your kids know why.
Making it a fun time
Brushing teeth can be a lot of fun! Get colorful toothbrushes with their favorite cartoon characters and pick a two-minute song your kids love to teach them how long it’s necessary to brush and have some fun along the way. Music will make everything less repetitive and boring and it will help the time pass faster. You can even come up with some dance moves together with your kids to incorporate them into the routine!
Oral hygiene is important regardless of age, but it is particularly important to establish good basic habits in young children so when they grow up, they’ll have a healthy dental self-care routine. Introduce your kids to the ways that lead to dental success and help them understand how important it is to properly brush their teeth each day. It might feel a bit tedious at first, but if you start working with them early on, make it fun and stay persistent, it will all be well worth the effort.