Teaching Children to Practice Good Oral Hygiene

See also: Dental Hygiene Tips

Getting your child to adopt healthy habits that help maintain their oral health is essential. However, doing so may not be an easy job, especially if your child is resistant.

No matter how difficult this task is, you must make an effort to help your child adopt healthy oral hygiene habits that will benefit them in the long run.

Child visiting the dentist.

Introduce Brushing in Early Childhood

Introduce oral hygiene when your child is still an infant. You can begin with simple steps like cleaning your baby’s gums using a moist wash cloth after drinking breast milk or formula. Though your child will not understand what’s happening at this stage, you’re still progressing towards establishing a routine that your little one will follow once they get older.

When your child begins eating solid food, you may introduce them to a finger brush made of rubber that has soft bristles. You can wear this brush on your index finger for thorough cleaning of your baby’s mouth. You can reach into the back of your little one’s mouth to gently clean their gums and teeth (if they have erupted).

It is advisable to begin brushing your little one’s teeth the moment their first tooth erupts. If you are located in an area where the tap water is fluoridated, you may skip using toothpaste until your baby turns 18 months old. However, if you have no access to fluoridated tap water, you may begin using adult toothpaste once your child turns one year old. It is then recommended to schedule your child’s first visit to a paediatric dentist after their first birthday. A visit to a dentist in the early childhood days will make your baby comfortable with dental clinic visits. During the first visit, your dentist will check the condition of your child’s teeth and gums and guide you on how you can keep track of their development. Partnering with your dentist in Port Melbourne to teach your child about the importance of good oral hygiene will benefit them in the long run.

Get The Basics Right

Once your child gets all their teeth, it’s time to put aside the rubber toothbrush and use a toothbrush like yours—the type of toothbrush you use to brush your little one’s teeth matters a lot. There are many child-sized toothbrushes available in the market. You must pick up a toothbrush with soft bristles to give your child a comfortable brushing experience.

Along with the right toothbrush, you may use a smear of fluoride toothpaste until your child turns three. After this, you can use pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Babies below six months don’t require fluoride at all. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is known to strengthen the enamel and make the teeth decay resistant. However, fluoride isn’t recommended in high quantities for kids as it may lead to fluorosis. It is best to use only the recommended amount of toothpaste as per your child’s age.

When your child is old enough to hold the toothbrush and understand about brushing their teeth, you may begin to teach them how they can brush their own teeth. It’s best to brush for them for a few weeks to help them know what they are expected to do. First, teach your child the proper technique to hold a toothbrush, and then teach them to move the brush in circular motions. Your child may take weeks or months to perfect this activity. However, you need to be patient and keep doing it for them until they learn it.

Adults must brush their teeth twice daily, and doing so in front of your kids will set an excellent example for them. When they see you brushing your teeth twice, they will automatically get into the same habit. Also, it would help if you taught them the importance of flossing their teeth at least once daily.

Useful Tips to Teach Your Child Good Oral Hygiene

Once your child turns 24 months old, you must ramp up your teaching efforts to ensure they understand the importance of oral health.

Here are a few tips to help you teach your child about good oral hygiene:

  1. Teach your child how to hold a brush and move it in circular motions. Monitor their efforts until they turn 7 or 8 years old or brush on their own effectively.

  2. Set a timer for one minute and tell your child to brush until the timer beeps.

  3. Brush along with your child, so they can imitate you and learn the correct way to brush their teeth.

  4. Explain to your child the consequences of not maintaining good oral hygiene. For example, explain that regular brushing and flossing can protect their teeth from decaying and their beautiful-looking teeth.

  5. Teach them how to floss their teeth and do this in front of them so that they can learn and imitate.

  6. You may invest in cute, kid-themed toothbrushes to keep your child interested in brushing their teeth every day.

  7. Ensure to take your child for regular check-ups and cleanings at the paediatric dentist. Your dentist will evaluate your little one’s teeth and gums and advise of their condition if required. In addition, many dentists explain simple techniques for brushing and flossing that may prove beneficial for maintaining your child’s oral health. Also, a dentist can educate you and your kid on various oral hygiene topics.

One of the major reasons for tooth decay in children and adult is sugar. Hence, it is recommended to monitor the daily sugar intake of your child to help them maintain healthy teeth and gums. Educate your child about the damages sugary foods can do to their teeth, so they can refrain from having too much sugar right from their early childhood. You can help your child build the habit of only having sugary food or drinks occasionally like on special occasions like birthdays or when they’re on a picnic.

Remember, whatever you teach your child in the early years, they will follow for life. So it’s very important to begin teaching the right habits early.

About the Author

Harmeen Bhasin is a digital content specialist at Adaptify. From short captions for social media to long-form blog posts, she is passionate about writing content for various digital platforms. Her interest lies in travel, music and writing.