Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 18-09-2023
Your oral health habits as a child impact your entire life. That's why it's so crucial for parents to teach their children the best way to care for their teeth- and the importance of doing so. Building strong habits from an early age helps ensure your child will have a healthy, bright, and beautiful smile for a lifetime.
As you help your child navigate the first years of their oral health journey, follow these six practical tips. Furthermore, remember to visit your family and pediatric dentist at Milltown Dental in Milton, Ontario.
1. Start early to build strong habits
Caring for the mouth starts early. Oral hygiene begins even before your child's first tooth appears. Cleaning your child's gums with a soft, clean cloth removes bacteria after eating and gets your child used to the sensations that accompany standard dental care. The cloth is gentle and soothing and mimics the feeling of a toothbrush.
It's not uncommon for small children to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable the first time a toothbrush is placed in their mouth. A cloth is an easy and reassuring way to introduce the feeling of brushing.Familiarising your child with these sensations early means they are less likely to develop an aversion to brushing later on. It also starts to build the oral hygiene habits that your child will have for the rest of their life.
2. Explain the importance of good oral health
Education is a vital part of dental care for children. You should help your child understand the seriousness of good oral health and its impact on their future. This factor is a challenge for many parents.
However, we have a few straightforward tips for instilling a passion for dental hygiene in your children.
- Show them that you care about your oral health. You're setting a positive example for your child by demonstrating healthy oral habits. They'll begin to understand the importance of good dental hygiene habits just by watching you.
- Many online resources teach children the importance of caring for their mouths. Fun, child-friendly videos are a great way to educate and entertain your child.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Educating our littlest patients is one responsibility of family and pediatric dentists at Milltown Dental. During your child's regular checkup, we'll explain the importance of good oral health and the best ways to care for their teeth as they get bigger.
3. Teach proper brushing and dental care techniques
Brushing and flossing are crucial for good oral health. Unfortunately, incorrect brushing is a poor defence against cavities and tooth decay. Improper brushing can even damage your child's primary and adult teeth.
What's the best way to care for your child's growing smile? Let's take a closer look.
- Brush using gentle, circular motions at a 45-degree angle.
- Brush for two minutes twice a day.
- Use a soft, bristled toothbrush that is appropriately sized for your child.
- Use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to protect their teeth from cavities. Children under three should only use a smear of toothpaste, while those over three can use a pea-sized amount.
- Floss once daily. You should floss your child's teeth as soon as there are two touching baby teeth. Most children can floss on their own by age eight.
4. Track their progress and offer rewards
Tracking and rewarding good oral hygiene habits is a great way to encourage regular dental care. You can place a milestone tracker or brushing chart in the bathroom, where your child can note how often they brush and floss. They will become more excited to care for their teeth because their accomplishments are recognized.
Furthermore, the tracker fosters your child's independence and encourages them to take ownership of their oral health. Plus, it helps prevent tooth brushing from becoming just a chore. Instead, it helps teach them to be proud of their excellent oral health and dental hygiene habits.
Small rewards incentivize your child to brush, floss, and make healthy choices. These rewards could be gold stars, certificates of achievement, high fives, or a trip to the park.
5. Encourage healthy eating habits
Your children incorporating proper brushing techniques and regular checkups is only half the battle. Your child's eating habits also significantly impact their short- and long-term oral health. A balanced diet is essential for preventing tooth cavities.
Minimizing your child's consumption of sugary foods, drinks, and snacks would be best. This tip includes slowly sipping on milk bottles or sippy cups with juice! Your child should never fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice as this keeps sugars in the mouth and can lead to cavities.
Your child's diet should consist primarily of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and vitamin and mineral-rich foods for optimum oral health. Instead of candy or chips, give your child healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt, or nuts. Avoid anything sugary, chewy, sticky, carbonated, or especially acidic.
Lastly, always opt for water over pop or sports drinks. Whereas water rinses away harmful bacteria, these sugar-heavy drinks promote the development of tooth decay.
6. Visit your dentist in Milton for regular checkups
Routine checkups are crucial for everyone in your family, but especially children. It's essential to monitor the development of their teeth, identify any issues early on, and provide education and guidance.
Plus, these early trips to the dentist also help shape your child's whole perspective on oral care. Positive visits teach your child that there is nothing to fear. They'll feel more comfortable in dental offices and are less likely to experience anxiety in the future. They won't skip appointments when they get older if they're less anxious.
Milltown Dental: Your Family Dentist in Milton
At Milltown Dental in Milton, our family and pediatric dentists specialize in building trusting, safe, and reassuring relationships with patients of all ages. We strive to make your little one's experience as positive as possible.
Contact us today to discover the highest standard of pediatric dentistry in Milton, Ontario.