Oral Hygiene for Infants (up to age 2)
You should begin routine oral hygiene well before your child's teeth have even emerged through proactive gum care. At around six months of age, your child’s first teeth (usually the lower front teeth) will begin to come in.
Here is how to properly clean and care for your baby’s teeth and gums:
- After each feeding, be sure to wipe the baby’s gums with a soft washcloth in order to remove bacteria, which cause tooth decay.
- As soon as the first signs of teeth appear begin to brush their teeth twice daily with a grain-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Book your baby’s first dental appointment before their first birthday or after his or her first baby tooth has come in - whichever arrives first.
- Only allow them to use soothers nap time or bedtime starting at one or two years old.
Oral Hygiene for Children (aged 3 to 9)
One thing to keep in mind is that your child's oral health care needs will change as they grow and you will need to adapt accordingly. By the age of three, all of your child's baby teeth should be in 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:
- You could try to always do the tooth brushing routine together. Kids love doing what the adults in their lives are doing, 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).
- Children typically react positively to bright colours and characters, so picking dental care accessories may make them more likely to use them. Make brushing fun by choosing a brightly coloured, soft-bristled toothbrush and flavoured toothpaste your child loves (use a pea-sized amount).
- Diet has a great effect on overall oral hygiene and it is very important to teach healthy eating habits when your child is young. 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)
Once your child has reached the pre-teens their teeth will need to be addressed more like an adult's teeth. At this age:
- Discourage tobacco use. Not only are smoking and tobacco terrible for their overall health, but tobacco can also lead to many oral diseases, such as gum disease and other diseases such as oral cancers.
- Remind your child of the importance of healthy eating and ensure that they drink plenty of water.
- 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.