Teaching your children proper oral hygiene habits is critical to give them skills and knowledge that they can take with them into adolescence and adulthood. Early dental hygiene can prevent decay and cavities, which affect over 50% of kids over the age of six in the United States. Here are five simple tips to help promote healthy dental habits in your kids.
1. Start Early
It is never too early to start promoting positive oral health habits. The earlier you start, the more deeply ingrained these habits will become.
You can use a silicone finger brush or clean, damp washcloth to gently clean your infant’s gums from a few weeks after birth until their first teeth erupt, around 12-18 months. This eliminates bacteria and food debris and massages the gums to increase circulation and promote better gum health. It also provides oral sensory input that can help them learn to speak and eat a more diverse diet.
2. Be a Good Role Model
Kids imitate the people they look up to. Even if they aren’t old enough to use a proper toothbrush and toothpaste, allowing them to watch you while you brush and floss exposes them to positive behaviors that they can imitate when they are older. Being a role model lets you demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques. You can also use a two-minute timer to show your child how to clean their teeth thoroughly and for the correct amount of time.
3. Make Oral Hygiene Fun
Persuade your kids that oral hygiene is fun by turning it into a game. Sing a “Brush Your Teeth” sing-along song to help your kids remember how to brush their teeth, or invest in an electric toothbrush with a musical feature for an older child.
Incorporate brushing behaviors into playtime to help your child become familiar with their toothbrush and how to hold it.
When the time comes for your child to use a proper toothbrush and toothpaste, let them choose their own. This can help them feel pride in their oral health and make them more likely to use them.
4. Promote a Healthy Diet
Healthy teeth and gums start with a healthy diet. Sugar is the leading cause of tooth decay in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding exposing your child to sugar-laden products until they are at least two years old. By this time, they should have a well-established oral care routine that can prevent acid wear and cavities.
Encourage your child to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables because the fiber can help stimulate gums and saliva production to protect tooth enamel.
5. Speak About the Dentist Positively
The pediatric dentist you choose for your child can greatly impact their perception of dental care. Speaking positively about trips to the dentist can also prevent your child from developing fear or anxiety around dentistry, affecting how they care for their teeth in the future.
The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests scheduling your child’s first dental visit as early as six months old, whether or not their first tooth has erupted. This allows the dentist to examine your child’s mouth to look for signs of abnormal growth. It also ensures that your child becomes familiar with your dentist and the sound and smells of the dental office.
Protect Your Child’s Smile at Hinsdale Dental
At Hinsdale Dental, we make dental care enjoyable for kids, helping to alleviate any anxiety around dental treatments and providing preventative care and education to promote healthy oral hygiene habits.
For more information about our pediatric dentistry services or to schedule your child’s dental visit, call our office today!Return to Blog