Whether your child still has their baby teeth or has already lost all of their teeth, each and every tooth is important to the safety and well-being of your child. To keep them from pain and to save you money at the dentist, it is best to teach your child proper dental hygiene habits early. That way, they can be protected from cavities or worse dental problems.
The First Step
The first thing you should do to get your child in the habit of keeping their teeth clean is to set up regular dentist appointments starting from the time they are six months old and returning every 3-6 months. This will allow you to establish who your family dentist is as well as make sure that your child’s teeth are just as healthy as they should be.
While Your Child is an Infant
Proper dental care starts when your child is very young. When children are too young to take care of their own dental hygiene, you have to be the one to help them. First of all, you need to make sure that you don’t let them keep anything other than water in their mouth for long periods of time.
Many parents give their infants bottles full of milk in their cribs to help them fall asleep, but that can actually make their teeth decay because the milk will stay constantly on their teeth. To avoid this problem, either don’t give them bottles without your direct supervision, or give them a bottle full of water.
You also need to help your child brush their teeth when they are too young to do it for themselves. Make sure that you brush their teeth at least two times per day, at morning and night. That way, their teeth can stay healthy, and they will begin to form habits in regard to how teeth are supposed to be brushed.
Toddlers and Older Children
Starting at about age three, children become readily able to form habits, so this is when you really need to focus on teaching them about brushing and flossing. Make sure that they clean their teeth really well, and provide help them when they need it.
One way to help them see how important it is to brush your teeth is to show them that it is important to you. Children learn best and quickest from example. If you make a point of brushing your teeth with them, they will understand that brushing their teeth can be an enjoyable family activity.
For children that have outgrown brushing their teeth with you, simply encourage them to keep up the good habits you tried to encourage in them while they were young. Also, make sure that they make it to their appointments with the dentist for cleanings and regular x-rays. That way, if there is a problem or they need braces, you will know right away.
Start Habits Early!
Telling your kids about how important brushing and flossing is a good step toward cavity prevention and creating healthy habits for life!