Dental Hygiene for Children

Did you know dental hygiene is important from infancy? It’s never too early to start good dental habits. Here are some tips on dental care for children.

Dental Hygiene for Children

Infant Brushing

As soon as baby teeth merge with the gums, parents should start brushing their child’s teeth as well as cleaning their infant’s gums with a wet gauze pad or washcloth. Toothpaste is not necessary at this early age.

Brushing your baby’s teeth is an important step in keeping them healthy and cavity-free. When it comes to cleaning your child’s teeth, there are many expert opinions on how best to do this, but the most universal advice is that you should start brushing your infant’s teeth as soon as possible.

Once your baby’s teeth are beginning to come in, purchase a small children’s toothbrush with soft bristles and a smaller head. Use a toothpaste that does not contain fluoride because children under six years of age do not need to be exposed to it. While the ADA [American Dental Association] states that fluoride is beneficial for children over the age of six years, they also state that there are possible side effects of overexposure to fluoride, especially if a child swallows too much toothpaste.

When your baby is about eight months old, you can begin brushing his or her teeth twice a day with a small amount of toothpaste. Make this a positive experience by using your pinky finger to rub the gums with fluoride-free toothpaste and allowing him or her to brush their own teeth with a small children’s toothbrush.

Transitioning from Infant Brushing to Toddler Brushing

To help make toddler brushing fun for your child, consider using the following tips:

  • Use toddler toothbrushes with soft bristles and smaller heads. Purchase toddler toothpaste that is fluoride-free (because children under age six do not need to be exposed to fluoride).
  • Let your child choose his or her own toddler toothbrush or toddler toothpaste.
  • Don’t forget to floss your toddler’s teeth daily. Flossing can be a difficult task for children, but if you make it a fun experience by using a floss pick with a flavored coating, your child will look forward to brushing and flossing his or her teeth each day.

When your child is about two years of age, you can switch to a pea-sized amount of regular adult toothpaste. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles that is small enough for him or her to hold on their own. At first, you should assist them with brushing, but as time goes on and they become more independent, allow them the chance to brush their teeth under your supervision.   

Transitioning from Brushing Your Child’s Teeth to Allowing Them to Brush Their Own Teeth

As soon as your child is able to spit out toothpaste, he or she may be ready to brush their own teeth. Don’t expect them to brush correctly on their own at first; you should still supervise until they get the hang of it and you feel comfortable leaving them alone during brushing sessions.

As children get older, make dental hygiene a positive experience by encouraging them to participate in their own dental care. Don’t be surprised if your child is not interested in oral care the first few times you try it. Many young children do not like having dental instruments inside their mouths and start crying out of fear. As dental hygiene becomes a habit, your child will usually cooperate with dental care.

  • Start dental visits when children turn one or two years old. Usually the dental cleaning is supervised by a dental hygienist and done under parental supervision.
  • Brush your child’s teeth twice daily for 2-3 minutes per session until the age of 10.
  • Encourage your child to drink fluoridated water and foods that contain calcium, vitamin D and protein.
  • Limit the amount of sugary drinks in your child’s daily diet.
  • Encourage dental visits when permanent teeth erupt. If dental problems are present, dental exams should be done often to prevent dental issues from becoming serious.

Healthy dental habits can prevent dental cavities and gum disease.  

Transitioning from Tooth Brushing to Tooth Brushing and Flossing

When your child is about six years old, you can transition from brushing only their teeth to also flossing. Ask your dentist if he or she has any tips for teaching children how to floss properly. It will be much easier if you start this task while they are still young. To make it easier on yourself, take the opportunity to teach your child how to floss by showing them how you floss your own teeth. Allow them to floss their teeth while you floss yours.

As a child ages and becomes more independent, brushing their own teeth becomes a must. They will need your supervision until they can brush properly on their own, but don’t hold their hands forever. Eventually your child will be able to brush his or her teeth alone!

SUMMARY on Dental Hygiene for Children

  • Start brushing your infant’s teeth as soon as possible.
  • Use a toddler toothbrush with soft bristles and smaller heads for toddlers.
  • Let your child choose his or her own brush or use your dentist’s suggestions.
  • Brush your child’s teeth twice daily until age
  • Floss every day.
  • Transition from dental cleaning under parental supervision to tooth brushing and flossing when they are six years old. Then encourage them to brush their teeth on their own until they can do it independently.  
  • As a child ages, provide encouragement and support so that your child will have healthy habits for a lifetime.
  • Always consult a dentist for additional advice.  

It is important to ensure that your children maintain good dental hygiene habits. Most children won’t want to brush their teeth at first, but after they get used to it they will most likely cooperate with you. For more advice on how to keep your kid’s teeth pretty healthy, you can reach out to this dentist who offers veneers, Invisalign, and dental implants in Woodbridge.

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