Healthy brushing habits that encourage good dental hygiene start early in a child’s life. It’s our job as parents to ensure that our children’s teeth are getting the daily attention they need. Here are some basics of childhood tooth care, as well as some tips and tricks to encourage a lasting and effective oral hygiene routine.
It’s never too early to start.
By prioritizing dental hygiene from a very young age, you help to create a routine for your child, making tooth care an automatic and engrained element of daily life from the start. As soon as teeth start to emerge, begin a regular twice-a-day brushing routine with your child. Once teeth begin to go in side-by-side, it’s best to begin a once-a-day flossing routine as well.
Use the right tools.
When you start your child’s routine, be sure to stock up on age-appropriate tools. There are toothbrushes specially designed for infants 0-2 years of age. These brushes have extremely soft bristles for sensitive little mouths and come in tons of fun designs with ergonomic handles for parents to get a good grip. Once your child outgrows infant brushes, there’s a wide variety of brushes designed for toddlers and school-age children with fun options like bright colors, character designs, and electric brush heads.
Before children are able to reliably spit out toothpaste, it’s best to opt for a toothpaste that is fluoride-free. While these varieties are safe for toddlers to swallow, you want to encourage them to practice spitting in preparation for using kids’ fluoride toothpastes in the future.
There are tons of fun flossers on the market with handles designed to help parents access hard-to-reach places in little mouths. Traditional dental floss and water flossers are other options to consider. Explore what’s out there and decide what’s best for you and your family.
Make it an absolute in your household– you must brush your teeth in the morning before you leave the house, and you must brush and floss before you go to bed at night. Consistency is the key to creating oral hygiene habits that last into adulthood.
Tips for when healthy habits don’t come easy.
Brush as a family. Kids love to do exactly what their parents do. Make it a habit to gather around the sink and take care of your teeth together. This will emphasize the importance of this daily routine, as well as create a space for bonding as a family.
Let them pick their tools. Take your child to the store to pick out their own teeth brushing tools. If your kids are excited about the type of brush, floss, or toothpaste that they get to use, they’ll be more likely to willingly and enthusiastically care for their chompers.
Make it a game. It’s recommended that children brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day. For a kid (and an adult for that matter) that can feel like forever! One way to make tooth care a little more fun is with a kids’ dental timer. These small, colorful timers work like an hourglass, timing exactly how long kids need to brush for. It’s a simple tool that gives your child something to concentrate on and spares you the task of having to answer, “Are we done yet?”
By using these guidelines and tricks, you’ll have your children well on their way to having better dental and overall health for life.