At our Jupiter family dentistry practice, we welcome patients of all ages. For our younger patients, we find that the earlier they create a proper dental hygiene routine, the healthier their teeth will be for life. To ensure that your child has the best possible oral health, consider following these handy dental care tips.
1. Teach Your Children Well
At our Jupiter family dentistry practice, we find that many adults actually do not know the proper way to brush and floss. We are happy to teach our patients of any age how to ensure that every tooth (and your tongue) should be cleaned. Once you understand the proper technique, teach your children how to carefully brush each tooth, front and back. It can be helpful to simply brush your teeth at the same time so that you can watch and see that your child is brushing properly, and you also will be modeling proper brushing techniques and habits.
Be sure to teach them proper flossing techniques as well. With smaller children, dexterity can be an issue, so consider purchasing flossers rather than strings of floss. These flossers make it easier for little hands to get in close to the gumline and remove plaque. It is recommended that all people brush their teeth twice per day and floss at least once per day.
2. Brush For A Set Time
Typically, we recommend that you spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth. This ensures that each tooth is brushed carefully. Of course, kids don’t always have the best sense of time, so to make it easier, invest in a little egg timer or perhaps set your phone alarm and have them brush until the timer goes off. Of course, you can also up the fun factor and instead brush your teeth to a favorite song or tune.
3. Skip The Sugar
We all know that sugar is bad for our teeth, and we all know that eating candy, sugary snacks and drinking soda should be avoided. It can be a good idea, however, to explain to kids exactly how sugar affects their teeth and oral health. Everyone’s mouth is filled with bacteria. Some bacteria are good and fight disease and decay, while other bacteria can eat away at tooth enamel and cause decay and cavities. The sugar in the foods we eat helps speed up the production of this bad bacteria, making it easier for cavities to form.
Avoiding all sugary foods and drinks is always the best course of action, and this will benefit your entire body. If you do eat sugary snacks or drink sugary or acidic drinks, limit this as much as possible. When drinking a soda or juice, drink through a straw to limit the contact your teeth will have with the sugars and acids. It is especially important that children (and everyone else) drinks only water before bedtime. If you sip a glass of juice or another sugary drink, this allows sugar to coat the teeth and simply rest there for many hours while you sleep.
4. Remember To Rinse
While we all indulge in the occasional sweet treat, many people also mistakenly believe that they should brush right after eating these foods. Rather than training your children to brush after eating a slice of cake or drinking a glass of juice or soda, it is best to simply have them rinse their mouth out thoroughly with water and then wait for about 30-45 minutes before brushing. If you have eaten sugary or acidic foods and brush right away, this can damage tooth enamel. It’s best to rinse and brush later.
5. Start Brushing Right Away (But Skip The Paste)
When your child is a baby and has no teeth, you can simply gently brush your child’s gums with a baby toothbrush. After the first teeth appear, use a very soft brush (there are many quality infant tooth brushes on the market) and water. Toothpaste is not recommended until your child is about three years old, as they tend to swallow the paste if they are younger.
Once your child reaches the age of three, they can begin brushing their own teeth with your careful supervision. You may need to do a bit of the brushing, as well, but it’s never too soon to start teaching good oral health habits and helping your child learn proper brushing techniques. Once your child is about 5 or 6, they should be able to do a fairly good job brushing by themself although a timer or song can be a helpful tool to keep them focused for the right amount of time.
6. Visit The Dentist
Many parents wonder when they should schedule their child’s first visit to our Jupiter family dentistry office. We recommend that you schedule an appointment within the first few months after their first baby teeth begin to appear. At the very least, we recommend you bring them in by their first birthday. Starting early and scheduling regular visits not only ensures that your child’s teeth are as healthy as possible, it also tends to lessen a child’s anxiety about visiting dentists in general. We try to make it as fun and stress-free as possible for our littlest patients so that they make a positive association with dental care from a very young age.