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How To Teach Oral Hygiene To Kids

Establishing good oral hygiene habits should begin in infancy. Here, our Orangeville dentists will delve into the reasons why it is crucial to teach these habits early and how to effectively instruct and reinforce them throughout your child's childhood.

Oral Hygiene for Infants (up to age 2)

Establishing excellent oral hygiene practices starts even before your baby's teeth start to emerge. Healthy gums lay the foundation for healthy teeth. Typically, around six months of age, your child's first teeth, usually the lower front teeth, will begin to appear.

Here are some essential guidelines for caring for your baby's teeth and gums:

  • After each feeding, gently wipe your baby's gums with a soft washcloth to remove bacteria that can contribute to tooth decay.
  • Once the teeth start to emerge, brush them twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a grain-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Schedule your baby's first dental appointment either before their first birthday or after the eruption of their first baby tooth, whichever comes first.
  • Limit the use of pacifiers to nap time or bedtime, beginning at around one or two years of age.
  • By following these steps, you can lay the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health for your child.

Oral Hygiene for Children (aged 3 to 9)

A lot happens in these years as your child grows, and their oral hygiene plan needs to keep up. Baby (primary) teeth should all be in by age three and will start falling out around age six when their adult (permanent) teeth start growing in. Most permanent teeth arrive by age 13.

Here are 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).
  • Teach the importance of diet for healthy teeth. For excellent oral hygiene, calcium-rich foods like green vegetables, cheese, and yogurt are key.
  • Limit sugary foods, fruit juices, and soda, which get stuck in the crevices of kids’ teeth and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Oral Hygiene for Pre-Teens (aged 10 to 12)

As kids enter their pre-teen years and grow more independent and active, their dental health needs become more similar to adults. At this age:

  • 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.
  • Remind your pre-teen to drink water, and keep your fridge full of healthy snacks.
  • 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.
  • Continue regular dental visits.

Contact our dentists at Orangeville Dental Centre to learn more about how to establish good oral hygiene in your child's routine today.

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