We all know that kids lose their baby teeth as they age. But even though those baby teeth will eventually fall out, the dental hygiene habits you establish with baby teeth will help tremendously to keep your child’s adult teeth healthy for the rest of their life.
It’s incredibly important to teach your kids how to care for their teeth as soon as possible. The habits we develop early on in childhood can last a lifetime. And every parent wants their kids to have great-looking smiles without nasty cavities and other painful (and expensive) problems!
Here’s a guide to teaching your kids proper dental hygiene from an early age, and how you can build great habits.
Teach Your Kids How to Properly Brush
You should start brushing your child’s teeth at the first sign of a tooth breaking through gums. Use a training toothpaste without fluoride, and go for about half the size of a pea dot of toothpaste.
You can start teaching a kid how to brush as early as 18 months. They may not immediately understand the importance, or be able to do it on their own, but they can get used to the routine – which will make it a lot easier once they get older.
Start out by doing it for them. Move the brush in short, gentle strokes, with the brush at about a 45-degree angle to the gumline. Get the outside of the teeth, then move to the inside, then tackle the tops of the teeth (i.e. the chewing surface).
Talk your child through the process as you brush for them. Tell them what you’re doing, and do it in the same exact order every time.
When they’re old enough, let them hold the brush by themselves but still brush with your guidance.
To reinforce brushing, brush your teeth alongside them. Leading by example will not only help you and your children bond; it’ll also strengthen those habits and motivate the child to mimic Mom or Dad.
Get Your Kids Used to Flossing
Flossing is probably the single-most neglected part of dental hygiene. For whatever reason, people just don’t like to do it, even though it’s really important.
You have to be careful with teaching your kids to floss because they can hurt their gums if they aren’t careful. So, show them how to do it and encourage them to be gentle.
Just like with brushing, if you do it repeatedly, and floss alongside them, you’ll develop this habit from an early age that will serve them into adulthood.
Teach Your Kids About What Not to Drink
A lot of what you can do to protect your kid’s teeth involves what they drink.
Sugary beverages like soda and tea can really damage your kid’s teeth if they consume them in excess. Even drinking sports drinks and fruit juice can help develop cavities. How much is too much?
Try to limit your children to one sugary beverage, milk. No juice, and no sports drinks unless they are playing in a sporting event. We all should be drinking a lot more water than we currently are, and that includes kids, too. If you can teach them to limit sugary beverages when they’re young, you can keep them from developing addictions to them later that can not only lead to bad teeth, but other problems like blood sugar issues, obesity, and more.
Visit the Dentist Early and Often
Dentists visits can be scary, but fear is always learned. Kids aren’t born with a fear of the dentist, and they usually develop their first fears not from the dentist, but from their parents.
Introduce your child to the dentist as soon as their teeth come in. Visit regularly, and don’t skip visits. Get your kids used to the idea of going to the dentist. And be positive; explain why it’s important and how the dentist is there to help them. A positive association between your children and their dentist will help them keep healthier teeth as they age.
If you’re looking for a friendly family dentist that works great with children of all ages, talk to us at Barganier & Lecroy. Our Hoover dentists are ready to help you teach your children the right way to care for their teeth – a lesson that will last a lifetime.