Tooth decay affects children and adults alike, and although children lose their baby teeth, their mouths will have new teeth along old ones. It is important to prevent tooth decay from the start. Furthermore, a child should learn dental health care habits early for a lifetime of good oral health.
Children should brush and floss, and the most important brush is the one before bedtime. Between brushing teeth before bed and going to sleep, children should not consume food, especially ones containing sugar. In fact, sugar in general should be avoided in children’s diets, including fortified or natural juice. For parents looking to feed their kids healthy and balanced meals, juice should only be used as a treat instead of a replacement for hydration.
Ideally, your child should see or have seen a dentist by their first birthday. Have your dentist or hygienist explain how to brush and floss teeth. Community health fairs are available in some areas, and visiting the booths is a good way to refresh memories on dental hygiene as explained by healthcare professionals. Your school may hold contests or educational days having to do with dental health, so it is important to mark these days on your calendar. Pay attention to the messages as your child may need further explanation at home. The importance of having good teeth will be emphasized between dentist appointments.
Kids do not gain the motor skills to properly brush teeth or floss until roughly ages 6 and 10 respectively. Your oversight will be needed until then. For even younger children, you will be the one handling the tooth brush. Use a soft cloth to wipe the teeth of a baby, and floss when two teeth appear side-by-side. Avoid sugary foods and medicine, as children will not have the maturity to make these decisions.
Brush your child’s teeth early enough before he or she becomes too tired during bedtime but late enough that the child isn’t hungry. Allow your child to make decisions involving their dental health, like choosing their toothpaste or toothbrush. However avoiding brushing is not an option. Choose a child friendly dentist, preferably one with other children as clients. Ask your dentist for tips on encouraging dental health or for brightly coloured children’s materials explaining hygienic concerns and habits. Non-food related rewards can be used to encourage positive efforts.