Good oral hygiene habits begin when our children are babies. Here, our Camrose dentists explain why it's so important to teach good oral hygiene habits and reinforce them throughout childhood.
Oral Hygiene for Infants (up to age 2)
Good oral hygiene starts before your child's teeth have even broken through their gum line. Healthy teeth grow from healthy gums. By about 6 months old, your child's first teeth will start to emerge from their gums.
Here’s how you should care for a baby’s teeth and gums:
- Limit soother use to nap time or bedtime starting at one or two years old.
- After feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a soft washcloth to remove bacteria, which cause tooth decay.
- Once teeth begin to arrive, brush twice daily with a grain-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Book your baby’s first dental appointment before their first birthday or after his or her first baby tooth has come in - whichever arrives first.
Oral Hygiene for Children (aged 3 to 9)
Lots happen in these early years and your oral hygiene plan needs to keep pace. Your child's baby teeth should all have emerged by the age of three and they will begin falling out around the age of 6 when their adult teeth begin growing in. Most of your child's permanent teeth will arrive by the age of 13.
Here are some age-appropriate oral care lessons for children aged three and up:
- Brush and floss together. Kids love copying adults, so take advantage of this by having them watch you brush and floss while explaining the process. Build good habits by starting to floss once a day when teeth touch (around 6 years of age).
- Choose a special brush and toothpaste. Make brushing fun by choosing a brightly coloured, soft-bristled toothbrush and flavoured toothpaste your child loves (use a pea-sized amount).
- Teach the importance of diet for healthy teeth. For excellent oral hygiene, calcium-rich foods like green vegetables, cheese, and yogurt are key.
- Limit sugary foods, fruit juices, and soda, which get stuck in the crevices of kids’ teeth and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Oral Hygiene for Pre-Teens (aged 10 to 12)
As kids enter their pre-teen years and grow more independent and active, their dental health needs become more similar to adults. At this age:
- Remind your pre-teen to drink water, and keep your fridge full of healthy snacks.
- Continue regular dental visits.
- Discourage tobacco use. Not only are smoking and tobacco terrible for your lungs, but tobacco can also lead to many diseases, such as gum disease and oral cancers.
- Remind them how great a healthy, white smile looks. Appeal to appearance-conscious pre-teens by reminding them that maintaining excellent oral health will keep their teeth strong and their smile white.