If you have kids, you likely have experienced the meltdown about going to the dentist office. Many children (and adults) don’t like going to the dentist. This fear of the dentist has many causes, but when it comes to children, it can be the result of the unpleasant smells and sounds and bad past dental office experiences.
Dental office visits can be quicker and less uncomfortable if the child’s teeth and gums are properly cared for and in great health. Kids who live in a home where adequate oral hygiene is routinely practiced also get a clean bill of health from the dentist which often results in a reward of some kind either from the dentist or the parent.
There are many benefits of instilling good oral hygiene habits in your children. Some of these include:
- A healthy, cavity and disease-free smile
- Quicker, less painful and scary dental office visits
- A lifelong commitment to personal oral hygiene
- A heightened sense of pride and self-esteem
What is a Good Oral Hygiene Routine?
Like adult dental care, good oral hygiene for children consists of daily teeth brushing, flossing and the use of mouthwash (for older children). Regular twice annual dental check-ups and cleanings at the dentist office is also necessary to ensure great teeth and gum health.
It is recommended that children have their first dental visit by the age of one. Usually, this first appointment will cover a thorough examination of the teeth and gums. The first cleaning will occur around age two.
When it comes to pediatric dental care, you, as the parent have the most control. Great pediatric oral hygiene begins before any of the baby teeth come in (erupt). Gentle rubbing of the gums with a damp, soft washcloth will help your baby’s mouth get off to a healthy start.
The sooner a child visits the dentist, the easier future appointments will be. The child will become familiar with the dentist, the staff and dental environment and will get accustomed to the hygienist probing around inside their mouth. By scheduling a dental office visit every six months, the child will come to expect it and will put up less of a fuss to go.
The child’s teeth should be brushed using a special, soft, toothbrush designed for children and brushing should begin with the eruption of the first baby teeth. Parents should brush their child’s teeth until around age 8 or 9 when the child can brush his or own teeth. Teeth brushing should be done at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Flossing should be done at least once a day. Flossing can be difficult for children, so parents should floss their child’s teeth until the child can correctly floss on their own.
How to Make Oral Hygiene a Habit
The sooner children are exposed to proper oral hygiene, the easier they can be taught and the more likely they will be to see how important it is to care for their teeth and gums. Habits that are engrained earlier will also be carried into adulthood.
Besides starting a good oral hygiene routine early on, it should also be fun. This will make kids associate the caring of their teeth and gums with a pleasurable experience, making them more likely to do it.
Here are some tips to start a good oral hygiene routine with your kids:
- Take him or her to the dental office to meet the dentist and staff while they’re very young.
- Reward your child after a successful dental office visit (i.e. no cavities or no fits).
- Let your child pick out his or her toothbrush and toothpaste flavor.
- Brush together while listening to your child’s favorite song.
- Give prizes to your child for each day he or she brushes their teeth without throwing a fit. Offer a bigger prize for consecutive days of proper tooth brushing.
- Avoid buying sugary foods and drinks or greatly limit their access to your children. Only offer these items sparingly.
- Encourage and practice healthy eating and the drinking of water.
Establishing a regular, adequate oral hygiene routine for your family early on is essential in helping your child start with healthy teeth and gums. While going to the dentist may not be fun and the twice daily teeth brushing may seem like a chore, there are some ways to make it more fun and easier.
Whether you welcomed your new bundle of joy to your family a few months ago or you have an older child at home, it is important to schedule regular dental office visits for a check-up and cleaning. If it has been more than six months since your child’s last dental appointment, contact your child’s pediatric dentist today to schedule an appointment.
Source by Anna Bird