How to Teach Your Kids the Importance of Dental Hygiene

As parents, we have so much to teach our children. From the moment they’re born, we’re helping them learn and grow, keeping them safe and secure. It’s easy to let some things fall by the wayside, because there’s always so much to do when you’re raising kids. One thing that should never be missed, though, is dental hygiene. From their earliest days, it’s important that children know that a healthy mouth is a big part of a person’s overall health. How can you convey this? We’ve got some tips to help.

  • Don’t think of baby teeth as disposable. Baby teeth do fall out, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. Small teeth lay the foundation for bigger teeth in the future, and bacteria from decaying baby teeth can cause damage to permanent teeth before they even erupt from the gums. What’s more, problems with baby teeth can be painful, embarrassing, and prevent kids from getting the right nutrition.
  • Start when they’re very small. Before they even have teeth, you can wipe babies’ gums with a moist washcloth or soft gauze after each meal to remove bacteria and get them into a routine of oral hygiene. When they move to solid food, use a finger brush or infant toothbrush to brush along the gum line and start brushing the teeth themselves as soon as they begin to erupt. When they get old enough to want to brush their teeth themselves, let them, but keep supervising closely until they’re 7 or 8 years old and can do it properly. With flossing, start as soon as your child has more than one tooth, and keep doing it until he or she is old enough to do it well, around age 10.
  • Teach them to eat a nutritious diet. Talk about healthy foods and the importance of eating crunchy fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water to help keep the teeth clean. Teach little ones how calcium-rich foods like milk and cheese can strengthen teeth, and limit their consumption of sugary snacks. Sodas and other sugary drinks, candy, gummies, and dried fruits, and even popcorn, crackers, and chips can promote bacterial growth that leads to tooth decay.
  • Model good practices. Let your kids see that dental hygiene is important to you, too! Kids love to copy what their parents do, so make brushing a family affair, brushing together and showing them the right techniques to do the job well.
  • Prioritize dentist visits. Baby’s first pediatric dentist appointment should be scheduled before the first birthday. You want your children to be comfortable with the dentist and the dental office, and a dentist can track the development of your child’s teeth to make sure it’s on track.
  • Make brushing fun! Let them pick their own toothbrushes, and choose a fluoride toothpaste in a flavor your kids find appealing. Set a timer for two minutes, perhaps a two-minute hourglass or a timer that plays a tune. Use songs, games, books, toys, and activities to help them learn more about healthy teeth in a fun way.

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