Starting Oral Care Young
As they grow up, teeth play an important role in how children learn to chew, smile and speak. Taking care of your child’s teeth from an early age helps to establish a lifetime of great dental practices. But at what age should you actually start focusing on your child’s oral care?
Teeth-brushing should start at a very young age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends wiping a baby’s gums with a soft washcloth or baby toothbrush and water only immediately after feeding. Once the child’s first tooth arrives on the scene, parents should brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled, cushioned toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste. By the time they reach age 2, you can encourage your child to brush their own teeth. However, as the parent, you’ll still want to follow up and help them brush to ensure their teeth are truly clean. From ages 5-7, children don’t quite have the dexterity to effectively brush their own teeth, so to help get their teeth sparkling clean, follow up their attempt with another brushing. Children 8 and older should be using a fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush designed for both permanent and baby teeth.
How Do I Get My Kid to Brush Their Teeth?
Knowing when your child’s teeth should be brushed is all fine and dandy, but actually getting them to brush their teeth may feel like a production. However, there are plenty of ways to make it seem like a fun part of their day – or maybe even an activity they get excited for. Here are a few ideas for getting your child to brush their teeth and do a good job:
- Let them pick their own, fun toothbrush and toothpaste. This makes brushing an enjoyable part of your child’s daily routine, which could make getting them to brush their teeth less of a struggle. There are plenty of options for bright colored or favorite character toothbrushes out for kids these days.
- Look for flavored toothpaste with child-friendly fluoride. These toothpastes give kids flavors that don’t taste awful and colors that appeal to them visually, all while protecting their teeth from cavities.
- Add some tunes to the task. Play music while your child brushes their teeth to make it fun, calming or exciting. Songs can also act as timers to give your child an idea of how long to brush.
When it comes to flossing, a good rule is to begin when your child’s teeth make contact with one another, creating the opportunity for food to get stuck between them and foster bacteria growth. This usually occurs around age 2 or 3, though not every child needs to start flossing this soon, so it’s best to consult your dentist first. They’ll need help flossing until about age 7, when they have the dexterity they need to use conventional floss by themselves. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful tips and kid-friendly tools your child can use to make the process easier and more enjoyable.
If you are a parent of a one to three year old, bring your toddler to your own routine dental cleaning, and have them sit in your lap to get introduced to the dentist and their tools at an early age. After the first visit, additional appointments should be scheduled for every six months to watch for any issues and ensure proper tooth development. To make your child’s first dental visit a more comfortable and fun experience, Perimeter Dental offers a Kids Club Program where, with every checkup at Perimeter, members have the chance to win a prize. We even do a monthly drawing where one lucky Kids Club member will receive a $25 gift card from PD’s Prize Locker.
Is Your Child Ready For the Dentist?
For over 30 years, Perimeter Dental Group has been dedicated to ensuring that even our youngest patients receive proper dental hygiene and establish good habits to give them a lifetime of bright, healthy smiles. Learn more about our Kids Club Program or schedule your kid’s first dental visit at Perimeter Dental Group today!