February is National Children’s Dental Health Month — a month dedicated to highlighting the importance of early dental care to children and their caregivers. We know it’s not always easy to get young kids to brush their teeth, but we would like to offer you some tips on how to set your child up for a lifetime of good dental health habits.
Poor habits formed as early as the toddler years can last a lifetime. The good news, however, is that you have the opportunity to teach your kids from a young age the importance of dental care. You can empower them to take care of themselves as they grow and prevent issues like inflammation, pain, bleeding gums, cavities, bad breath, and poor self esteem.
Dental Care Habits Are Built Daily
- The first trip to the dentist should happen after the first tooth comes in, preferably before their first birthday. It’s normal for children to be afraid of doctors, and especially dentists. Prevent this from turning into a problem by making it safe for your child to express pain or discomfort, and frame the activity as a positive experience to look forward to.
- Your child’s dental hygiene starts before they have teeth: Healthy teeth grow in healthy mouths. To care for your child’s teeth, start by keeping their gums clean in infancy. Try softly rubbing their gums with a moist gauze twice a day, or as instructed by your dentist.
- You can include a tiny drop of toothpaste when the first tooth comes in, and keep using that amount until the full set has grown, at around 3 years old.
For children between 3 and 6 years old, the amount of toothpaste will go up to the size of a pea. Once your child’s teeth are close enough to each other, it’s time to start flossing to prevent food residue from sticking around. Include this routine in your child’s day to help take care of their teeth and instil the habit for them to practice for life.
Make tooth brushing an exciting part of the day. Let’s face it, children need the extra push every now and then or they lose interest. Try different flavors or colors of toothpaste, a fun new toothbrush, and even things like stickers to reward a great daily dental hygiene routine!
Anything that will encourage your child to stick with good dental care is fair game. But beware of rewarding with sweet treats: they can do more harm than good. We’re happy to help you with any tips or advice to make sure the child in your life will enjoy beautiful and healthy teeth for a lifetime.