How old should children be when parents begin teaching oral hygiene? That’s a question many parents have regarding their children’s health and well being. When asking friends and family for advice, it seems as if everyone has a different answer. Here is a general guideline of how and when to begin practicing oral hygiene with children.
Do Infants Require Oral Hygiene?
While it is not generally necessary, many parents choose to begin practicing oral hygiene with their infants even before they have teeth. After each feeding, wet a washcloth with warm water and gently run it along the gums. This helps eliminate bacteria along the gum line, and it will get the baby used to the feeling. Then, it will not be such a big adjustment once it is time to begin brushing.
When to Begin Using a Toothbrush
Children generally get their first tooth between six to nine months old; however, some children do not get their first tooth until they are around 12 months old. At this time, it is best to buy an infant toothbrush with soft bristles, and begin brushing the tooth twice a day using only water or baby toothpaste that does not contain fluoride. This will help prevent bacteria and plaque formation on the baby teeth. At this age, it is also important to keep an eye on bottle habits. Children who go to bed with a bottle, or drink a lot of juice in their bottle tend to have increased risk of gum disease as bacteria sits on the teeth forming plaque, which in turn can cause gum recession.
When to Begin Flossing
Flossing is something that many children take a while to get used to; therefore, it is best to begin as early as 2 years old. To make it easier, establish a routine, such as flossing every night before bed. Flossing can be difficult for younger children, and they will probably need assistance for several years.
When Should Children See Begin Seeing a Dentist?
Children usually begin regular dental checkups at around 3 years old. At checkups, the dentist will do regular cleanings, ensure that the teeth are coming in properly, check for cavities, and offer additional advice to parents about how to keep their children’s teeth healthy. This is also a good age to begin using a toothpaste that contains fluoride. By age 3, children are normally able to spit the toothpaste, but they should still be supervised closely. Many children at this age are also longing for independence and can begin to practice brushing their own teeth with the assistance of a parent. To encourage a lifetime of healthy habits, limit sugary snacks, soda’s/pop, and fruit juices.
Although this is generally a safe guideline to follow, all children are different. Some children may need to see a dentist earlier or more often. It is important to always discuss concerns or questions with the family dentist.
This article was written by Jem, a freelance writer who specialises in both nutritional and dental aspects of life. Irked by the nations lack of oral hygiene and knowledge of gum disease issues, Jem strives to educate those who are willing to listen. You can follow him on Twitter @writerjem now.Filed under Child Development, Parenting Advice, Parenting Information | Comment (1)