Did you know that the health of your child’s teeth is partially determined before the first tooth even breaks through the gums? Thanks to genetics, some children start out with healthier teeth than others. There is also research that suggests the mother’s diet during pregnancy may have a positive or negative effect on the health of their child’s teeth. This makes it even more important to introduce a good oral care routine at a young age. Every child is different, and some will enjoy dental care more than others. Being consistent and sticking to a routine will get them off to a good start!
When To Start
On average, babies “cut” their first tooth (or teeth) between 6 months and a year old. Once the teeth start to come in, it is important to begin properly caring for them. For an infant who has not started solid foods, you can use a clean, wet cloth to gently wipe the teeth down after feedings and as needed. Once the baby starts eating solid foods, a soft bristled, small tooth brush can be used with warm water to gently clean the teeth.
Once your child is able to hold the toothbrush on their own, you can begin to teach them how to brush their own teeth. Most toothpastes are approved for children as young as 2 years old, and a small dab is safe to use with adult supervision. Brushing your teeth together as a family is a great way to get them invested in the activity, especially for children who are resistant to it.
Dental Office Visits
Pay close attention to your child’s teeth as they grow in, especially once they begin eating solid foods. If you notice any dark spots, cracks, or loose teeth, schedule an appointment to be seen by the dentist as soon as possible. These could be signs of tooth decay, weak enamel, or other oral health issues. If you don’t see any issues with the teeth, you should bring your toddler in for their first visit around 2 years old. During the visit, the dentist will examine the teeth for any problems and the hygienist will clean them. Starting routine dental care early is a great way to get your child comfortable with the process and make them more likely to care for their teeth long term.
Make It Fun
For some children, brushing their teeth is automatically fun and they enjoy doing it without a fuss. However, there are some children that are not as thrilled with the process of taking care of their teeth. Either way, a great way to create healthy habits that stick is to make oral health fun! If your child is old enough to understand how it works, try a reward system to keep them interested. Though it may be tempting, stay away from candy and sweets as rewards as they can lead to cavities. Sticker charts and disposable rewards like bubbles, new crayons, or even a small toy give your child something to work towards.