Teaching your Children about Proper Dental Hygiene

Dental care is essential for proper hygiene at all ages. In order to prevent dental problems from developing, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than the child's first birthday. It's the parents' responsibility to clean their child's teeth daily until the child is able to do it on their own. Children should brush their teeth twice a day for at least a full two minutes. Flossing should begin as soon as the child has two teeth that touch. Most children are able to begin brushing on their own by age 6 or 7, but proper supervision will ensure that your child is doing an adequate job with tooth and gum care. Children can develop healthy dental habits at an early age if taught the importance of regular brushing, flossing and dental visits.

Dental problems in children can arise from tooth decay, lip-sucking, tongue-thrusting, and thumb-sucking. Even infants can suffer from baby bottle tooth decay, caused when a baby's teeth are in constant contact with sugars, usually from juice, milk, formula, or sweetened beverages. Various behaviors that are common in young children, such as thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting (when the tongue thrusts forward against the lips, putting pressure against the front teeth), and lip-sucking, which involves holding the lower lip against the upper front teeth, can all result in dental problems. Injury, lack of jaw space, and tooth decay can also result in early tooth loss.

  • Periodontal Diseases of Children and Adolescents: The American Academy of Periodontology writes about the different types of periodontal diseases that can develop in children.
  • Tooth Decay: Learn about the causes, risk factors and symptoms, as well as the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tooth decay.
  • Baby Bottle Tooth Decay - Prevention: Find out the causes of baby bottle tooth decay and how you can protect your infant from dental decay.
  • Dental Care – Thumb-Sucking: This article discusses dental problems caused by thumb-sucking and how you can help your child stop this behavior.
  • Periodontal Disease: An in-depth report that talks about the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of periodontal disease.

Tooth-brushing is typically not considered a "fun" activity by children, and therefore, many parents struggle with getting their kids to brush. Many children like to mimic their parents, especially if mom and dad show excitement over an activity. Bring your child into the bathroom with you and let him or her watch you brush and floss. Allow your child to hold and play with the toothbrush, creating the illusion that brushing your teeth can be fun. If the thought of using a toothbrush is too scary for your young child, allow them to use their finger wrapped with a piece of gauze to clean their teeth until they are more comfortable using a toothbrush.

  • A Fun Eggsperiment: This at-home or in-the-classroom activity is designed to get kids excited to brush their teeth.
  • Two-Minute Brushing Song: This catchy two-minute tooth brushing song will help ensure that your child brushes for a full two minutes while having fun listening.

The first trip to the dentist can be stressful for both you and your child. The night before the appointment day, put your child to bed at a decent time to ensure that they get a good night's rest. Pack a bag of comfort toys, a security blanket, and small snacks that will keep your child comfortable during the visit. It's best to bring young children to the dentist in the morning, as they tend to be less irritable and more cooperative. Choose an experienced pediatric dentist who works specifically with children. It may be beneficial to allow your child to visit the clinic a few days before the appointment date to get familiar with the office, staff and dentist.

  • A Child's First Dental Visit: This fact sheet will help prepare parents, children, and dentists for first dental visits.
  • 5 Tips to Help Kids Overcome Fear of Dentists: Use these tips to help your child overcome their fear of the dentist.
  • Your Child's First Dental Visit: This article talks about what happens at the first dental visit, the difference between a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist, and other vital information for parents.
  • Tooth Tips: Learn about the various dental solutions available for children, including fluoride treatments and sealants, as well as how to deal with dental injuries, teeth-grinding and other oral health problems.