Cavities affect baby teeth in 42% of kids age 2 to 11. In kids ages 6 to 11, 21% have cavities in their permanent teeth.
Proper dental care for kids from an early age helps reduce the chances of cavities and other dental problems. Your child’s teeth can grow in healthier and stronger, so they can chew, talk, and smile well. Early oral care also helps establish positive habits that carry your kids into adulthood.
Keep reading for your guide to kids’ dental care to keep your little one’s teeth sparkling and healthy.
Be a Dental Care Role Model
Your kids learn their habits from you on every aspect of life including dental care, so focusing on your oral health can help them improve theirs. Let your kids watch you brush your teeth so they see it’s important and learn how to do it. Make brushing and flossing a priority every day.
Schedule your own dental checkups at least two times per year. Talk about your trips to the dentist in a positive way to make it feel less scary for your kids when it’s their turn.
Get Into an Oral Hygiene Routine
Establishing routines around brushing and flossing helps you and your kids get in the habit of doing those tasks daily. Your kids should brush at least twice per day.
Connect the task with something you do daily to help you remember. If you have breakfast together every morning followed by a mini dance party, move the dance party to the bathroom while you brush your teeth.
At night, you might pick a book to read together before you brush your teeth. Get everything ready for story time, and then go brush your teeth. Then, cuddle up together with your book.
Having a daily family toothbrushing party where everyone brushes together can also help. Kids sometimes fight things when parents simply tell them to do those tasks. When mom and dad join in, it’s not as bad.
Start From Birth
Even before your baby has teeth, you need to start practicing oral hygiene. Before your baby’s teeth erupt, use a soft, damp washcloth or clean gauze pad to wipe the gums after each time you bottle feed or breastfeed your baby. This helps remove bacteria and keep the mouth clean, and it gets your little one used to dental care.
Help Young Kids Brush
Once your baby’s teeth break through the gums, it’s time to switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Toddlers and preschoolers often need help until they master brushing.
Give your little one a chance to brush alone before or after you do your part so they can learn how to do it. Praise your child for their efforts, even if they miss some spots. Positive reinforcement helps them learn how to handle brushing their teeth on their own.
Kids only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste each time they brush. Move the toothbrush gently over all surfaces of your child’s teeth, on the inside and outside surfaces.
Make Brushing Fun
Instead of looking at teeth brushing as a chore or something you dread, turn it into a fun time with your kids. Let your little one pick out a fun character toothbrush and their own toothpaste to get them excited about brushing. Some toothbrushes play music as a timer or vibrate to help clean teeth better.
Turn it into a game by telling your kids their mission is to scrub away all of the gunk on their teeth. You can sing a song or play music and tell your kids to keep brushing until the song is over.
If your kids are motivated by stickers, make a brushing chart that you hang in the bathroom. Each time your child brushes, add a sticker to the chart. When you fill the chart, let your child pick out a little treat or do something fun as a reward.
Schedule Regular Dental Visits
Your child should visit a pediatric dentist as soon as the first tooth pops through the gums or by the first birthday at the latest. The general guideline is to visit the dentist every 6 months for checkups. Your child’s dentist might recommend a different schedule if there’s an individual need.
Finding a dentist that your child likes can make a big difference in those regular checkups. Pediatric dentists often have fun dental offices that get your kids excited about visiting. They also have experience putting kids at ease when they’re nervous about the dentist.
Outside of regular checkups, your child’s dentist is a good resource for dental health concerns and questions. Contact your child’s dentist if you notice anything different or if your child complains of pain. Investigating dental issues early can make them easier to treat.
Watch What You Consume
Your child’s diet also plays a role in dental health. Eating lots of healthy foods as part of a balanced diet supports strong teeth. Your child needs a variety of foods to get the essential vitamins and minerals that support health throughout the body, including the teeth.
Foods that are high in sugar and starches can damage tooth enamel by combining with plaque and making acid. Lots of sugary snacks can increase the chances of cavities.
Limiting snacks, choosing healthier foods, and brushing after eating can cut down on dental issues. When you do enjoy sweet snacks, save them for after meals when saliva is at its highest. The saliva can help protect your kids’ teeth.
Hard foods can also cause damage to teeth and increase the chances of cavities. Hard candy can stick to teeth, where they can cause cavities, for example.
Don’t forget about drink choices. Sugary drinks coat your child’s teeth and can lead to decay. Drinking more water, especially water with fluoride, can wash away food particles and reduce the chance of cavities.
Practice Dental Care for Kids
By establishing routines for dental care for kids, your little ones learn the importance of taking care of their pearly whites. Having a little fun with dental care and partnering with your child’s dentist also helps.
Is your child due for a dental checkup? Contact us to schedule an appointment.