Dental hygiene is critically important for self-esteem, social success, and career success – so it is important to start young! Even though we may think that our children have teeth that are just going to fall out, so there is no real reason to take care of them, that isn’t true.
Here are 5 tips to keep your kid’s gums and teeth healthy :
- Start Children Early.
Did you know that 1 in 4 children will go to kindergarten with signs of tooth decay and poor tooth health? How about that over half of children under the age of 15 have at least one cavity? Dental care is important, as mentioned above, because their teeth are linked to their early social development. Teaching your child how to care for his or her teeth is important because they will continue to do so as they get older, limiting the trips to the dentist. Dental care should start as soon as the child get his or her first tooth. Start by using a damp cloth after each meal (you can buy them in the baby aisle if you want specific ones). As the child gets more teeth, move to a baby or toddler specific toothbrush. Once your child turns two, you should start letting him or her do most of the brushing and flossing twice a day, though you should monitor.
- Encourage Rinsing
Though most dentists recommend brushing after every meal, that isn’t always practical. If your child cannot brush or floss after a meal, encourage them to rinse out his or her mouth with an antibacterial rinse that is approved for children. This will counteract the buildup of plaque and staining. Make sure your child doesn’t swallow the rinse and that he or she uses it for at least thirty seconds.
- Tongue Cleaning
The tongue is a major source of bacteria that causes bad breath and general mouth problems. A dirty tongue will increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth that will end up causing more damage to the teeth and gums. Teach your child how to use a tongue scraper to remove plaque. This might be an activity you have to help him or her with for a few more years, as it requires a mirror.
- Replace Toothbrushes Often
Just like the tongue, teeth, and pretty much everything else, your child’s toothbrush will build up bacteria over time – no matter how often you rinse it and how well you dry it off. To stop the nasty pattern of mouth to toothbrush to mouth bacteria trades, replace the toothbrush or the electronic head at least every two to three months, more if you live in a humid environment.
- Use Fluoride
Fluoride is used to help teeth become stronger and resist tooth decay. Soft teeth have a tendency to wear down faster and get more cavities. Using a fluoride rinse (once your child is age appropriate – check the labels or talk to your dentist) in addition to regular oral health care will help your child in the long run. If you are worried about fluoride rinses, water is a great source of it! If you aren’t sure if you water is treated with fluoride, ask your local water authority or talk to your dentist.
The best tip of all is to keep up with regular visits to the dentist. As your child gets older, it will help him or her feel safer around the dentist and will keep oral health a top priority. There are many dentists that cater to young children, but a family dentist will know how to work with your child as well.