Dental hygiene is one of the most important aspects of civilized life, and it’s important to get children started at a young age in order to instill the value of strong dental hygiene habits. Parents invariably have to be the ones to teach their children about proper dental hygiene, but it may not be easy to know what should be done. At what age should a child first visit the dentist? When can they start brushing their own teeth? These sorts of questions are important if you wish to start your child down the right path to healthy teeth long into their adult years.
When To Start
Oral hygiene is something that’s important from birth, so it’s a good idea to clean your infant’s gums with a damp cloth. Once teeth start to show at about six months, they should be brushed gently with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Only use brushes designed specifically for infants since larger brushes can damage the gums of a child. This practice should continue for each tooth as they emerge, and the first trip to the dentist should be scheduled no later than 6 months after the emergence of the first tooth. All infants who’ve reached 1 year of age should have visited the dentist at least once. The dentist will basically check to ensure your child’s teeth are coming in properly and that they are being properly cleaned.
A child should visit the dentist once every six months at a minimum. Children have a lot of change going on with their teeth from an early age up until they lose their last baby tooth, which might not happen until puberty or later. Biannual trips to the dentist will not only guarantee the correct progression of your child’s dental health, but they will pick up on any issues before they become too serious.
Some children aren’t able to visit the dentist this often, especially those in foster care. In these cases it is recommended that the parent or guardian be especially vigilant with dental hygiene measures on a daily basis. Children should brush their teeth at least twice per day. Appropriate brushing times include when children awake, before meals, and before bed. It is often thought that brushing after a meal is a good idea, but studies have shown that brushing after a meal provides far less overall cleansing ability that brushing before a meal.
Dental Hygiene Measures
Brushing isn’t the only way your child should be cleaning his or her teeth. The younger you can start teaching your child to brush their own teeth, the better of they’ll be with picking up the habit on a permanent basis. Most parents are able to teach their children around the age of 2 or 3, and children should certainly be brushing their teeth by age 4. Remember to emphasis the importance of completely cleaning every reachable surface of the teeth, including the places that are naturally harder to reach like the interior sides and the hard-to-reach molars in the back of the mouth. Many children miss spots because they are eager to finish brushing, but a timer set to one minute can help them focus on adequate brushing.
Of course, brushing is only one aspect of total dental hygiene. Flossing is nearly as important, and it is often overlooked by parents. Flossing helps reach the areas in between teeth even the best toothbrushes can’t reach, so it is a vital activity in the prevention of cavities in the hard-to-reach places. Flossing requires more dexterity than brushing, so most children slowly learn the techniques from ages 3 to 8 or so. By the age of 10, children should have full control over their daily dental hygiene routine. Parents just need to remember that children need to be reminded to perform the tasks.
“Mouthwashes are another way to help reduce harmful bacteria and plague in the mouth, but be sure any mouthwash you allow your children to use is made specifically for them,” said Los Gatos Family Dentistry. Some mouthwashes are made with harsh alcohol additives that are very dangerous for children if swallowed. Fluoride mouthwashes are also dangerous if swallowed even if they don’t have any alcohol. Parents should monitor their children closely when allowing them to use mouthwash.