Brushing your children’s teeth is a good start, but there is much more to oral health than just that! Often, we don’t realize the impact that poor dental hygiene has on our child’s overall health until much later in life – when it’s too late to reverse. In this blog post, You will learn about the importance of oral health for children and how to teach proper dental hygiene habits from infancy through adolescence.
By taking proper care of their teeth from a young age, children will be prepared to care for themselves as they get older and will significantly reduce the risk of developing severe diseases.
What is Oral Health?
Oral health means having healthy teeth, gums, lips, and mouth tissue. It also means having no infections or diseases in the mouth area that can impact your overall health.
The American Dental Association recommends that parents teach their children about proper oral health around their first birthday. This is when children usually have a few teeth and are gaining independence. One-year-olds can begin to hold their toothbrush and model brushing after their parents.
Why is Oral Health Important for Children?
Cavities are one of the most prevalent chronic disorders affecting children in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50% of children between the ages of 6 and 8 have had at least one cavity, and over half of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 have had at least one of their permanent teeth affected by decay.
Untreated cavities can become severe problems – bacteria from the decaying tooth can enter your child’s bloodstream and cause more severe health problems, including heart disease and kidney failure. Even when cavities are caught and treated early, they can still cause pain and discomfort, making it difficult for children to eat, play, learn, or sleep.
The following are a few more reasons why oral health is essential for children:
- To prevent tooth decay – Tooth decay can occur when food particles get stuck between the teeth or around the gums, causing bacteria to grow. This can be prevented by brushing your child’s teeth after every meal.
- To prevent bad breath – Brushing helps eliminate the plaque that causes bad breath. It also helps fight against gum disease, which can lead to bleeding gums and tooth loss.
- To instill healthy habits early – Teaching children about good oral health will help them develop healthy habits that last through adulthood.
- To boost confidence – Good oral health habits help children avoid bad breath, crooked teeth, missing teeth, and discoloration. Children with healthy, happy mouths are likelier to be healthy and happy themselves!
How to Teach Children Proper Oral Health by Age
As a parent, it’s essential that you teach your children about proper oral health from an early age. The earlier you start, the better your chance of creating a positive impression on the subject.
0 to 6 Months
At this stage, the most you can do is wipe your infant’s gums after feeding them. To do this, cradle your infant with one arm, wrap a wet washcloth around your other hand’s index finger and gently massage the gums.
The teething process typically begins between 4 and 6 months for infants. It is possible that your child’s gums may get red and inflamed and that their saliva production will rise. To help your baby feel more comfortable, give them a clean teething ring or a cool, damp towel.
Bacteria that cause tooth decay may be passed to your baby from other mouths. Avoid using your mouth to determine the bottle’s temperature, sharing utensils with your baby, or cleaning a pacifier or bottle nipple by placing it in your mouth.
6 to 12 Months
Your child will likely grow their first tooth between the ages of 6 and 8 months. After each meal, you can continue to wipe your infant’s gums gently. Start brushing your child’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush with no toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts – this is also when you should bring your baby to their first dentist appointment!
12 to 18 Months
At this age, your child should have had at least one oral examination by a dentist.
Keep up the routine of brushing their teeth twice daily with a tiny bit of children’s toothpaste, as directed by your dentist. In addition, continue to take preventative measures to protect your child from the microorganisms that cause tooth decay.
18 Months to Age 5
By age 3, most toddlers will have a full set of teeth! Your child should now be able to brush their teeth themselves every morning and evening. Graduate to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on a soft toothbrush. Instruct your child to spit away the toothpaste once they’ve used it.
Once a toddler has all of their teeth, they should brush each quadrant of their mouth for about 30 seconds. Keep a close eye on your child to prevent them from swallowing the toothpaste and to ensure they are brushing correctly.
Teaching healthy habits from a young age will ensure that your children grow up practicing good oral hygiene. As a result, they’ll be more likely to have healthy mouths and avoid dangerous diseases.