Dental Habits for Children
Healthy baby teeth are important for eating, smiling, talking and keeping a place for adult teeth. Good dental habits at an early age help prevent tooth decay and promote good general health.
In order to promote good oral health for life, it is important to set effective habits in children at a young age. Here are some things to keep in mind when helping your children take care of their teeth as they grow.
Early Tooth Growth
At this early stage in tooth development, between when they are first born to when they are three, it is imperative that you keep your children’s teeth and gums healthy, cleaning them regularly.
- Use a clean cloth to wipe your baby's gums and teeth after each feeding.
- As soon as teeth appear, brush your baby's teeth at least twice a day using a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and water (no toothpaste).
- Once a month, lift your baby's top lip and check for signs of decay. Look at the front and back of the top four teeth. If you see white or brown spots, take your baby to the dentist.
- When your baby is able to sit up alone, give your baby a training cup to drink from.
- Never use corn syrup or sweeteners on a soother. • Germs that cause cavities are passed from person to person. Never put your baby's soother or spoon in your mouth or allow sharing with others.
- If your baby sleeps with a bottle, use only water.
- Toddlers should stop using bottles between 18 months and two years of age.
- At two years of age, start taking your child to the dentist. Your child should visit the dentist regularly.
At three years of age and up to five, start brushing your children’s teeth using a toothpaste with fluoride. At this stage, it is important that you brush their teeth for them as they will not be able to do it themselves properly. Focus on teaching them the basics, so that they will be able to brush their own teeth properly when they are able to.
- Be sure to rinse toothpaste from your child's mouth and do not let your child swallow or eat toothpaste.
- Brush twice a day, especially before bedtime.
- Use a child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Apply a small amount of toothpaste about the size of a match head to the toothbrush. Be sure to brush the hard-to-reach molars near the back.
- At three years of age you can start flossing your child's teeth too.
Healthy Eating Leads to Healthy Teeth
Eating healthy, nutritious food is good for teeth, gums and general health. This is especially important for your growing child.
- Offer healthy snacks of fresh fruit, cheese, milk and crackers.
- Water is the best drink for quenching your child's thirst between meals. Limit fruit juice to mealtimes.
- Cut down on candies, sweets and drinks with sugar.
- When your child does have candies or sweet or sticky food, brush their teeth after.
Taking charge of your children's oral health at a young age will help them develop good dental health habits in the future and ensure that they're taking the best possible care of their teeth at any age. Learn more about Children's Dental Care at the Smile Dental Centre.