Kids might not keep their baby teeth for long, but that’s no reason to ignore proper dental hygiene. Aside from the risk of getting cavities, untreated gum disease compromises kids’ ability to eat well, sleep properly, and function at home and school. Plus, healthy baby teeth keep jawlines straight and hold the space for adult teeth to grow in.
Establishing good oral health at an early age will encourage lifelong healthy habits, so here are some kids dental hygiene tips to keep their smiles bright and healthy for years to come.
- Start a brushing and flossing regime early
As soon as your child has teeth, you can start brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush with a cushioned head and a tiny, pea-sized dab of non-fluoridated toothpaste. Once your child’s teeth begin to fill in and touch each other, daily flossing is an important step as well. It helps to remove food the particles that encourage bacteria growth and cavities.
- Schedule regular dental checkups
The general rule is to schedule your child’s first dentist appointment by their first birthday, and then every six months thereafter to ensure their teeth are developing properly and good oral health habits are being maintained. Regular dental checkups can help catch any oral health issues before they become serious.
- Help your child brush and floss until age 7
Kids age 7 and younger don’t have the manual dexterity to properly brush and floss, so you’ll need to help them. Let them do it themselves first, then follow up afterward, focusing primarily on the back teeth where cavities most often develop. When your child is ready to brush on their own, a battery-operated toothbrush can help them achieve a thorough clean.
- Consider sealants
Around age 6 or 7, when your child’s back molars have fully grown in, it might be a good idea to consider sealants, which are permanent coatings that help prevent cavities. However, having sealants is not an excuse to be lax with your child’s oral health—daily brushing and flossing is still recommended.
- Make oral hygiene fun
Oral care might seem like a chore for many kids, so try to find ways to make brushing and flossing fun. Let them pick out toothbrushes featuring their favorite characters and children’s fluoridated toothpaste in fun flavors like bubblegum and tropical fruit. You can also use fun timers to ensure your child brushes for a full two minutes and take advantage of the smartphone apps available to integrate games into your child’s brushing regime.
- Eat healthy foods
Brushing and flossing is only half of the good oral health equation. Eating healthy foods and avoiding sugary food and drinks decreases the risks of cavities and tooth decay. You can also decrease the negative effects of sugar on teeth by only offering treats after mealtime, when the amount of saliva in your child’s mouth is greatest and best able to protect their teeth. Additionally, serving milk with treats acts as a buffer to the acids and sugars.
- Consult a specialist when necessary
If your child starts to show signs of gum disease (swollen gums, bleeding while brushing and flossing, persistent bad breath, or other symptoms), it might be time to consult a children’s dentist. The dentist will be able to diagnose and treat your child and offer suggestions to halt or prevent the development of periodontal disease altogether.
Dental specialists in Tehachapi
Children need dental professionals who understand how to help them to feel safe while addressing their dental needs. And that’s exactly what you’ll find here. At Sedation and Implant Dentistry of Tehachapi, we treat all our patients with a high level of skill and compassion. Give us a call at 661)822-3727 or fill out our appointment form today. Dr. Sanchez will answer all your questions about your child’s treatment and how you can best support their oral health at home.