Helping Your Child Build a Dental Health Routine
As soon as little ones start sprouting their baby teeth, it is important for parents to teach them about proper oral hygiene to keep their teeth and gums in top condition. The dental health experts at Skyline Smiles are here to share some tips and tricks to help parents teach their children about the importance of good oral hygiene.
Flossing is an integral part of developing a thorough dental hygiene routine as it helps to free food, plaque, and other debris from the harder-to-reach surfaces of the teeth. Around the age of 2, children’s teeth begin to touch, making this an excellent time to start introducing flossing.
When helping your little one to floss, be sure to keep the following tips in mind:
- Floss in an up-and-down motion, not back-and-forth.
- Be sure to floss just below the gum line.
- Bend your floss to form a C shape on the sides of each tooth.
While many of us are familiar with using a spool of dental floss and wrapping it around our index fingers, this can be difficult for toddlers’ small hands. Try opting for dental floss sticks or a water pick to make sure you’re getting all the nooks and crannies.
As many parents know, toddlers and small children can be a bit fussy when it comes to getting their teeth brushed. Fortunately, this presents itself as an opportunity to allow them to really own this part of their dental hygiene and do it for themselves.
Some tips to help get your little one comfortable with brushing their teeth include:
- Allow them to pick their own toothbrush.
- Opt for swallow-safe children’s toothpaste.
- Let your child pick their toothpaste flavor.
- Play their favorite song to time 2 minutes of brushing.
- Lead by example, brushing your teeth with your child.
- Encourage them to brush their teeth in circular motions.
Be sure to put a small smear of toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush rather than a pea-sized amount if they are under the age of 3.
After your child has reached the age of 6, you can start introducing mouthwash into their oral hygiene routine. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), it’s important to wait until this age because this is when their swallowing reflexes are fully developed and can prevent them from unintentionally ingesting the mouthwash.
Adding mouthwash to your child’s routine can help to:
- Kill bacteria that cause bad breath.
- Protect their teeth from cavities with fluoride.
- Rinse away missed plaque and food.
- Remove plaque and bacteria from the tongue.
Keep these tips in mind when your child begins to use mouthwash:
- Choose alcohol-free mouthwash.
- Let them pick the flavor of their own mouthwash.
- Keep the mouthwash out of their reach.
- Use a timer to make sure they rinse for 1 minute.
Encourage Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement is important when it comes to supporting good hygiene habits. One of the best ways to do so is by offering non-food or candy-related rewards for good behavior. Try keeping a sticker board to track your child’s progress, setting an end goal like “2 weeks of brushing and flossing twice a day.”
Some examples of rewards can include:
- Playing their favorite game.
- Heading to the park.
- Watching a movie.
- A ribbon or prize.
If you have additional questions about your child’s dental health or how you can encourage healthier habits at home, reach out to your child’s pediatric dentist.
Dental Care In Santa Clarita
At Skyline Smiles, we pride ourselves in offering high-quality, patient-focused dentistry to the Santa Clarita community. From routine exams and cleanings to cosmetic dentistry, you can rest assured knowing that your dental health is in the most capable hands.
To learn more about our dental services, or to schedule an appointment, call (661) 228-6077 to speak with a member of our team today.