Children begin to establish optimal oral hygiene habits when they are still babies. Here, our Saskatoon dentists express the importance of teaching and reinforcing kids' good oral health habits during their childhood.
Dental Care for Infants (up to age 2)
Good oral hygiene starts before your baby’s first teeth start to erupt – healthy teeth grow from healthy gums. At around six months of age, your child’s first teeth (usually the lower front teeth) will begin to come in.
Here’s how you should care for a baby’s teeth and gums:
- After feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a soft washcloth to remove bacteria, which cause tooth decay.
- Once teeth begin to arrive, brush twice daily with a grain-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Book your baby’s first dental appointment before their first birthday or after the first baby tooth has come in - whichever arrives first.
- Limit soother use to nap time or bedtime starting at one or two years old.
Dental Care for Children (aged 3 to 9)
A lot occurs during this time as your child grows, and their oral hygiene plan has to keep up. All of your child's baby (primary) teeth should be erupted by the time they are three years old and will start falling out when they are approximately six years old when their adult (permanent) teeth start coming in. Most permanent teeth arrive by age 13.
Below we've shared some age-appropriate oral care lessons for children aged three and up:
- Brush and floss together. Kids love copying adults, so take advantage of this by having them watch you brush and floss while explaining the process. Build good habits by starting to floss once a day when teeth touch (around 6 years of age).
- Choose a special brush and toothpaste. Make brushing fun by choosing a brightly coloured, soft-bristled toothbrush and flavoured toothpaste your child loves (use a pea-sized amount).
- Limit sugary foods, fruit juices, and soda, which get stuck in the crevices of kids’ teeth and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Teach the importance of diet for healthy teeth. For excellent oral hygiene, calcium-rich foods like green vegetables, cheese, and yogurt are essentail.
Dental Care for Pre-Teens (aged 10 to 12)
As children enter their pre-teen years and start becoming more active and independent, their oral health requirements become more similar to adults. At this age:
- Continue regular dental visits.
- Remind them how great a healthy, white smile looks. Appeal to appearance-conscious pre-teens by reminding them that maintaining excellent oral health will keep their teeth strong and their smile white.
- Remind your pre-teen to drink water, and keep your fridge full of healthy snacks.
- Discourage tobacco use. Not only are smoking and tobacco terrible for your lungs, but tobacco can also lead to many diseases, such as gum disease and oral cancers.