Kids need to learn to take care of their teeth at a young age to take care of their adult teeth once they come in. Not only does this provide them with a good foundation of dental health as they grow older – remember, tooth decay is the most common disease among kids – but it teaches them how to take care of their teeth early correctly, so they don’t need to figure it out when something goes wrong.
Kids who learn to take care of their teeth early not only protect their teeth in childhood but into adulthood as well. And good hygiene leaves them with a healthy smile that they can feel confident about.
How to Take Care of Children’s Teeth
Taking care of your kids’ teeth requires several core components:
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Dentist appointments should be made every six months, and those need traveling out to a dentist.
Don’t neglect them. They’re essential for helping teeth stay clean, and they prevent painful problems, like cavities, from either developing or becoming worse. The regular dentist also appoints an excellent way for kids to get professional fluoride treatments if required.
Extra fluoride is great for kids because, as you remember, their baby teeth have less enamel on them. Fluoride strengthens that enamel and protects their teeth. Though, if they’re drinking water, your kids may also be getting an extra source of fluoride already because many communities put fluoride in their water supply as a public health measure.
Brushing, flossing, and snacking are all things you control at home.
The American Dental Association recommends that you begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as the first tooth comes in. You’ll use a soft brush and a fluoride toothpaste.
Some parents worry about using a fluoride toothpaste. But it’s recommended by the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Dental Association.
Moreover, as long as you’re using the right amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice to the size of a pea) and you’re supervising them to make sure they’re not swallowing the whole tube, accidentally ingesting fluoride toothpaste isn’t a problem.
Flossing should start as soon as their teeth begin to fit tightly together. There’s no need to floss their one (or two) teeth. But once those teeth start coming in fast and furious, usually between age two and six, you’ll want to get them in the habit of flossing daily. Expect to lend your kids a helping hand (for ability) until they’re about ten years old.
To help them learn to floss, tie the ends of an 18-inch piece of floss around their fingers. Teach them to gently slide the flow between their teeth and their thumb and fingers. Show them how to do this without hurting their gums. Then, teach them to curve the floss around the tooth their flossing and how to move it up and then back down again.
Snacking should also be limited after brushing, especially when those snacks are high in sugar. Avoiding eating a truck full of sugar is right for their general health, but it’s especially critical for preventing tooth decay.
No one is saying kids shouldn’t have any sugar. But when they’re hungry, don’t give them a Snickers.
And if you do give them a Snickers, it should be on the condition they brush their teeth afterward.