Advice from a Family Dentist: The Best Way to Teach Your Kids About Dental Hygiene
It is an important undertaking for all parents to teach their children how to be self-sufficient. Whether it involves teaching your teenager how to drive or your toddler to walk, children need to learn most of these things to survive. Or at least live life with few preventable problems. So, it stands to reason that parents should teach their child about dental hygiene. But how does a parent go about teaching their child the importance of brushing their teeth? When is the appropriate age to introduce them to a toothbrush? Are there any sensitivities that could be involved during their formative years? In an effort to answer all these questions and to give parents some useful advice, here is some advice from a dentist in Austin, TX.
Oral Care for Babies
Baby teeth usually appear between 4 to 7 months old, but that can vary since every baby is different.
The teething process usually starts with their bottom teeth. Their gums will be reddened/swollen, and their saliva flow may increase. To ease these symptoms, you want to give them a clean teething ring or a cold wet washcloth. Some parents even resort to letting them gnaw at a frozen piece of fruit.
Aside: Avoid using homeopathic teething tablets or teething gels. After FDA lab testing found “inconsistent amounts of belladonna, a toxic substance, in certain homeopathic teething tablets, sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label. Belladonna can cause seizures, breathing problems, and muscle weakness.
Whether your baby is teething, all gums or just have a tooth or two, it is important for parents to keep their mouths clean of plaque.
According to the popular toothpaste company, Colgate, “Cleaning the gums after feeding will remove bacteria and sugar from the mouth. To clean your baby’s gums, wrap a clean, damp washcloth around your finger and gently rub the gums with it.”
The best time for a baby to start going to the dentist is when the first few teeth start to come in. It is a good idea to see a pediatric dentist, a dentist that specializes in treating young children.
It is also important to note that tooth decay is an infectious transmissible disease. Make sure any utensil, bottle nipples, and pacifiers are sterilized and not tested orally by the parent.
Toddlers, Young Children, and the Dentist
If your baby is a year old, plain water will be sufficient to brush your toddler’s teeth with. There are specially made baby brushes with softer bristles on the market.
They can use pea-sized toothpaste and can learn to brush themselves with adult supervision at around age two or three. Avoid using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash until they learn how to spit them both out.
Usually, children will perfect their tooth brushing to the point where they need no supervision, from as early as age 6 to as late as age 8. Switch out toothbrushes every 3 to 6 months, or when the bristles look worn.
You want to discourage excessive thumb sucking or pacifiers or at the very least limit it, the more developed their teeth start to become. If these habits go unchecked, there is a good chance that there will become problems with the overall development of a child’s bite.
Children and Advanced Dental Care
As far as the concept of flossing goes, it is important to start when your children’s teeth start growing beside each other. This usually occurs from as early as age two and as late as age 6.
Children develop fine motor skills for flossing from about age 8 to 10. So, it is important that you supervise for both flossing and rinsing until they are old enough to do that on their own.
When you start flossing your child’s teeth, there is a good chance that the gums start bleeding. This is normal in the beginning. Once their gums start to get healthier, they will stop altogether. If they still persist, you want to see a dentist.
It is also a good idea to severely limit the number of sugary drinks in a child’s diet. Excess sugars can increase the chances of tooth decay, no matter what age, but children are especially vulnerable since their teeth are not as calcified as adults.
Good oral hygiene is important, no matter what age. While nobody is perfect and can follow this advice all the time, if you have most of it down pat, everything should be fine. Just have your child visit a dentist regularly, and give them a normal dental routine.
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