Our children tend to charge forward into the world with reckless abandon. As a result, they may not prioritize their oral hygiene. How many moms have argued with their child only to end up flustered when trying to explain the importance of brushing their teeth? It’s all well and good to tell them why tooth brushing is necessary for a healthy smile, but winning that argument is only one small battle in the war to regularly maintain your child’s oral hygiene.
According to the experts at VSP Dental, surprisingly, many parents simply don’t know everything that they can do to help build their child’s oral hygiene. Tooth brushing and flossing (or using a waterpik, a common and effective alternative) is certainly important. However, it’s not the only thing that you should be doing as a mom to ensure that your child has healthy teeth and gums throughout childhood and adulthood. To add to the challenge, many parents do not fully understand the importance of oral health in childhood.
There are many parents who assume a certain amount of leniency in childhood dental hygiene. After all, they are only “baby teeth” and you can overlook a cavity or crooked tooth because it will fall out, right? This is not the case. Juvenile teeth are the precursor to adult teeth. Keeping those baby teeth as healthy as possible is critical in setting your child up for healthy adult oral hygiene.
Don’t wait until juvenile teeth fall out to start paying attention to a child’s oral health. A responsible childhood dental health routine should begin from day one. While they may not have any teeth yet, it is important to keep an infant’s gums clean even when they are newborns. This has the added bonus of getting infants used to the process of having their mouths cleaned. When their first teeth do erupt, they will be less fussy when parents clean their mouths with a soft toothbrush designed for babies.
By the time a child is about three years old, you can begin to teach them how to brush their teeth on their own. Use about a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste on a child-sized brush. It can be a good idea to let them brush their teeth on their own first. Follow up by doing it yourself, as they probably don’t have the dexterity to completely clean their teeth on their own. A second brushing won’t hurt and will actually ensure that their teeth are completely cleaned by the time that you are finished.
This should continue until the child is around five or six, when they can begin to brush their teeth on their own. One common trick to help children learn about plaque and to identify the areas where they need to improve is to put a few drops of food coloring into a glass of water and swish it in their mouths. The food coloring will stick to the invisible plaque, allowing them to brush it off and to see when they have completely finished brushing. It is a great teaching tool and it makes the process a little more fun, too!
Finally, remember that your oral health practitioner is your partner when it comes to combating cavities as well as the other common problems that children face when it comes to dental hygiene. One of the most important things you can do is to ensure that your child receives regular dental checkups and cleanings. Always follow a trusted dentist’s advice regarding your child’s dental care.
Some dentists such as those at VSP Dental can offer special services, like seals on your child’s teeth to provide them with further protection during their younger years. These services will further ensure that their teeth remain in the best possible shape until they begin to receive their adult teeth. Be sure to talk to your dentist about your options.
When you work with a pediatric oral health team, you can come up with a plan for what’s best for your child and you can be sure that they’ll have great oral health now and throughout their life. These early years can be incredibly formative. By working now, you can give your children the gift of a smile that they will be proud of for years to come.