Aside from regular dental appointments, your child’s home routine is one of their greatest defenses against tooth decay. Because plaque continually builds up on our teeth daily, it’s important to scrub it off regularly. Doing so prevents the plaque from penetrating our gums and wreaking havoc on the rest of our teeth. That said, building the best dental care habits for kids while they’re still young can benefit them later on in life.
The first few months of your child’s dental development is crucial for several things. For one, the enamel of their primary teeth is thinner than their adult-sized permanent set. Young, erupted teeth are then quite vulnerable to bacterial attacks and are more likely to decay than the regular set. For another, poorly kept primary teeth are more liable to fall off earlier, which can cause developmental problems in the future. To ensure a healthy mouth, taking care of your teeth from start to finish is a crucial aspect.
When you build the best dental care habits in your kids, it’s akin to putting their dental care on autopilot—albeit a very skilled one. What practices, then, should you teach your child? Here are some suggestions:
Let them get used to the sensation of brushing their teeth
While your child is still young, each new impression is a unique experience for them. As such, they may react strongly to it when you first start brushing their teeth. Whether that response is a good one depends on how you introduce it to them.
- While they’re still babies, you can wipe their gums with a soft, wet cloth to help accustom them to the feeling. Aside from cleaning off any leftover sugars, this motion can also soothe your baby before and during the teething period.
- From there, you can graduate to a small toothbrush once their teeth come out. The toothbrush and technique used are equally important, as they can both affect your baby’s brushing experience.
- The real habit-making starts once they’re old enough to hold a toothbrush. If they’re already used to the sensation, chances are they’ll be eager to take the reins themselves once the time comes. Enforce this enthusiasm by joining your child while they toothbrush and making it a routine for both of you.
Get them into a flossing groove
It can get a little more difficult to get your children to floss than it is to get them to brush their teeth. For some kids, it might feel a little intrusive, even uncomfortable, to an extent. The key, then, is to start them off once they’ve got two teeth next to each other.
As with brushing, you’ll be taking over during the first few months while your child is still developing the needed motor skills to floss by themselves. Here, you might want to consider a thin, waxed floss that can easily slip between your child’s teeth. Remember to be gentle as well when you do move the floss and encourage your child to do the same once they’re old enough.