As a parent, you always want the best for your children—and that goes double for their oral hygiene. A person’s smile is one of the first things others will see when they meet them. It’s an important part of parenting to teach your kids the ins and outs of great dental care.
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When it comes to dental care for kids, the short answer is that it’s pretty much the same as with adults. Going to your dentist and orthodontist is an important step, but as they will tell you, it’s equally as important to teach good oral care in the home.
So how do you teach dental care for kids to your children? What do they need to know and when do they need to learn it?
Babies: Teething and Primary Teeth
The first stage your family will go through when it comes to dental care for kids is teething. You’ve probably heard of the long, sleepless nights this can cause for you and your baby. But teething is one of the most important events in your child’s life. Baby teeth allow an infant to switch to solids foods and also support the development of proper speech. Primary teeth also hold the necessary space for adult teeth.
During this stage, you can give them a chilled teething ring to chew on or even gently rub their gums to apply pressure. By age three, your child’s primary teeth should all be in and you should be well into stage two.
Toddlers and Up: Brushing and Flossing
The next stage of home care is teaching your young children how to care for their teeth. There’s no special trick to this—but the techniques they learn at this stage will continue throughout their lives.
Find ways to get your kids excited about brushing (your pediatric dentist will have many suggestions). Whether you use games, a wall chart, or a colourful toothbrush, building great habits early will stick with your kids throughout adulthood.
It’s also important not to overlook flossing at this point. Developing habits during early developmental stages means they’re more likely to stick. Yes, your child’s primary teeth will fall out, but not until they’re at least five years old. That’s a lot of good years to get into the habit of flossing!
Don’t underestimate the positive effects of a nutritious diet on dental hygiene and health! There are many sugary foods out there—and not just the ones you think. Take a close look at the sugar added to all the food you bring into your home.
Excessive and hidden sugar adds up and will cause problems like tooth decay and gingivitis. Regular brushing is essential but so is avoiding sugary snacks late at night (sugar in the mouth while you sleep is a breeding ground for plaque).
Everyone: Regular Visits to the Dentist
We may be discussing dental care for kids in the home, but it’s also important you teach your children the importance of regular check-ups. There are some things you just can’t do at home, and that’s where your orthodontist and pediatric dentist will support your family’s oral health.
Because dental visits can often be frightening for kids, start talking about the dentist early and often, creating a series of positive associations. This is especially important if you dislike going to the dentist because kids will pick up on your discomfort. Get your kids excited for this new adventure.
When it comes to dental care for kids, what you teach them at home is your first line against plaque and tooth decay. Help them develop great habits early, and they’ll always be proud of their smiles.