Help Kids Form Positive Dental Habits: Tips for Parents
- Posted on: Jul 21 2014
While the health of a child is always a top priority, hectic schedules and long, busy days can sometimes cause routine health habits to be rushed, or altogether overlooked. However parents must remember that when it comes to oral health, establishing a daily dental care routine will help prevent future pain for the child and headaches for parents, and can set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
For parents wondering how to help children form good dental habits at an early age, here are some tips.
- Start cleaning your baby’s mouth early on, so the baby becomes accustomed to having their mouth cleaned. Parents can wipe the baby’s gums with a damp, soft cloth each day. Since even the first few teeth are susceptible to plaque and decay, it is important to begin cleaning them as soon as they come in, with either a cloth or an infant toothbrush.
- During the early years, from ages 2 to 5, it is important to establish good brushing habits with your child. Though baby teeth aren’t permanent, they help the proper functioning of speech and chewing, as well as lay the foundation for future permanent teeth. Parents should brush the teeth of young children who have not developed motor skills, using a small toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. As they get older, parents can ease children into the brushing routine by allowing them to brush their own teeth for a few seconds at the end of each session. By age 5, children should be able to brush on their own, with supervision. A good rule of thumb is that if your child is able to tie their shoes, they have the coordination to brush their teeth. Typically, young children still need a parent’s help when flossing.
- Sugary drinks are a major culprit in tooth decay. Parents should limit drinks such as juice or soda, and encourage children to brush their teeth after consuming these drinks. If brushing each time is not an option, rinsing the mouth with water after consuming sugary drinks is also beneficial. Many dentists also advise parents to never put a baby to sleep with a bottle containing anything but water. The sugar in juice, formula and even milk can coat the baby’s teeth as they sleep, potentially causing cavities.
- Parents can make the daily routine of brushing and flossing a fun one. Allow children to pick out their own toothbrush, maybe with a favorite character or color. By making a new toothbrush a fun gift, kids will look forward to using it. To help pass the time during brushing (which should last for at least two minutes, twice a day), parents can play a special song. When the song is over, it signals to the child that it is time to stop brushing.
- Regular dental visits are another key component to a child’s oral health. Establishing comfort and trust at a young age can help children develop a life-long relationship with the dentist. A child’s first check-up should occur sometime between the ages of 2 and 3, once their baby teeth have come in. Parents can ease nerves by talking about the visit before it happens, and explaining what kids can expect during the exam. It is important that parents do not threaten a visit to the dentist or painful dentist treatments as punishment, as this will create unnecessary fear. Kids should view the dentist as their friend.
Pediatric Dentistry in New York
If you have any questions regarding pediatric dentistry or your child’s first dentist visit, contact Concerned Dental Care today to schedule an appointment. We have nine locations and twelve affiliate locations throughout the New York metropolitan area including the Bronx, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Midtown Manhattan, Yonkers, Farmingville, Hauppauge, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma. We look forward to serving you!