You may have a lot of questions about your child’s teeth, especially if you are a new parent. But whether you are a new parent or have 10 kids, you know your children need to practice good dental care habits. So here are the answers to some of our frequently asked questions.
1. First things first: start young.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages parents to take their children to the dentist when they turn 1 year old, or six months after their first tooth comes in. You may be thinking this is a little early for a dentist visit, but it isn’t. That first tooth that comes in is accessible to plaque, which can lead to cavities and other complications. Your pediatric dentist will be able to educate you about your child’s mouth and the proper steps needed to have a healthy smile.
This is also a good time to get advice on your child’s bad oral habits such as thumb/finger sucking and pacifier use. Don’t be a stranger. Follow up with your pediatric dentist as often as every six months. They will be able to assist you in making an oral care schedule for you child.
After jumping the hurdle of getting your children to visit the dentist, their good oral habits need to continue at home. Teaching your children proper oral hygiene habits is an investment into their overall health. Some parents may have difficulty getting their children to brush and floss everyday because “it’s not fun.” Encourage proper techniques and habits, leading by example. Show them how it’s done and they will follow suit. There are, however, some techniques you can pick up to try and make it more fun.
2. Let children pick their toothbrush and toothpaste.
There is a wide range of different products. Colors, characters, electric — kids can personalize their brushing experience to their liking. Making their own choices will help spark their interest in dental care so it won’t seem so much like a chore. Just make sure whatever they choose is approved by the FDA and ADA. Look for those letters on the packaging.
3. Offer rewards and incentives.
Parents aren’t perfect, and sometimes a little bribe here and there will work. Start small – offer extra play time or a treat over the weekend. We don’t recommend big rewards every day; this can lead to an expectation of gifts and parents definitely don’t want that. Small rewards over a larger period of time will allow for “weaning” off this technique, at the same time encouraging good oral care.
4. Educate your child.
Your children are like sponges. Teach them everything you know about oral health care and the consequences of not following proper cleaning techniques. Colorful charts are always a plus, and get your older children in on the action. Your young children look up to their siblings and are likely to follow what they are doing.
5. Make it a routine.
Children respond well to patterns and routines. Make sure to incorporate good dental care into their morning, afternoon, and evening routine. Make sure they are using proper techniques and ask your dentist if you have any questions about how to improve their daily routines.
If you have more questions about getting your children to follow good oral hygiene habits, feel free to contact us for more information. After all, we want to keep our younger generations smiling big!