Old habits die hard, and the earlier we start to form a habit, the more likely it is to stick in our minds and our routines. This is why giving your child healthy habits from the very beginning will prepare them to grow into a strong, healthy, resilient adult. Oftentimes, people think of baby teeth as “practice teeth” that don’t require the same diligent care as their permanent counterparts, but this thinking is not only wrong, it’s downright dangerous. Instilling healthy oral hygiene habits should start even before the emergence of your child’s first tooth. If you’ve got a young child at home, you may wonder how you can best be helping them to develop the right dental care habits. Read on for some tried and true tips on early child dental hygiene to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth!
1. It’s never too early.
Starting your child’s oral health practices can never start too early. If you’ve noticed your child has started to exhibit signs of teething, such as a propensity to chew on solid objects, you can start gently brushing their gums with your finger or a gentle brush to help alleviate some of the irritation as well as clear away some of the sugars and bacteria that may be resting in their mouths. As soon as their first tooth erupts, brushing should become a daily occurrence to not only clean the mouth, but to help instill the routine of brushing.
2. Set an example.
Children learn by example, and their parents are the best guides they have during their most formative years. If your children see you brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist, they are more likely to believe these practices are not only normal, but important. Taking care of your own health is one of the best ways to instill good dental values in your children.
3. Make the dentist a routine visit.
Your child should be seeing their dentist every six months for routine cleanings and checkups. Not only will dental cleanings help to keep your child’s mouth healthy, a regular checkup can help to identify potential problems in their oral health regimen and give you time to correct any issues. Additionally, normalizing visits to the dentist instills the habit in your children so they will be more likely to continue visiting the dentist as they progress into adulthood.
4. Equip your child for success.
The products you incorporate into your child’s oral health routine will have an impact on their overall oral health. Be sure to use a toothpaste certified by the American Dental Association (ADA) that contains fluoride, a mineral known to help strengthen tooth enamel. Their toothbrush should use extra-soft bristles to avoid damaging their developing teeth and hardening enamel. Additionally, purchase floss for your child and find a kid-friendly mouthwash for them to use to help kill additional bacteria in their mouth.
If you have questions about how to best keep your child on track to good oral health, or to schedule their next dental checkup, give us a call at College Drive Dental Associates in Palos Heights today!