Establishing Habits for Healthy Teeth
Keeping teeth healthy for a lifetime requires good oral care habits at all stages of life. If in children, we establish those habits right from the start they will benefit throughout their lives even when stress and life changes affect teeth and gums. Of course, regular trips to a kids’ dentist are important, but there are many small habits that we can start from a very early age, to set up children up to be successful at caring for their teeth for the rest of their lives.
Begin Brushing Before Teeth
Every baby experiences the onset of teething at some time in their first year, or soon after. Regardless of when teeth finally erupt it is good practice to begin ’brushing’ well in advance of the first tooth. In very small infants this can be as simple as wiping little gummy smiles with a clean, wet washcloth several times a day, especially after feedings and at bedtime. Ideally, you’ll build this practice into the bedtime routine so that it’s the last thing to do, even after the nighttime bottle.
Brushing for Toddlers
As babies grow and teeth appear, use an extra soft baby toothbrush and gently brush teeth and gums after feedings and at bedtime. Once this habit is established, and baby begins to develop the curiosity and independence of a toddler, they may want to brush on their own rather than let someone else do it for them. Try a compromise, allowing the child brush as best they can, before mom or dad take over to ensure that the job is done completely and correctly.
Nothing Special About Toothpaste
Regular toothpaste can be harsh for little mouths, but more importantly, toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed and it takes time for small children to understand the concept of spitting the toothpaste out rather than swallowing. So until they learn how, choose a training toothpaste made especially for kids. Kid’s toothpastes also have milder or non-minty flavours that kids won’t balk at. Either way, forming habits is the important piece, and with or without toothpaste habits are forming. Using toothpaste won’t make your mouth any cleaner if you don’t brush regularly or properly. Other than the fresh taste that we have come to associate with clean teeth (an association that we can thank marketers for) toothpaste doesn’t provide baby teeth with any special benefit. So if your child refuses to brush because he or she doesn’t like the toothpaste, simply don’t use it for now, and try again some other time.
Make Brushing the Last Thing Before Bedtime
Another habit – one that can be difficult to break is the nighttime bottle or snack. Don’t underestimate the damage that bedtime snacking can have on little teeth. Eating or drinking before bed, without brushing leaves a film of food on the teeth and gums, inviting the proliferation of the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Baby teeth can develop cavities just as adult teeth can, and severe cases of extensive decay can lead to the development of other problems in the child’s mouth. Luckily, you can avoid decay in baby teeth by making it a habit to floss and brush after bedtime bottles or snacks.
Don’t Forget to Floss
Children’s teeth and jaws are changing all the time. Developing the habit of flossing early will not only keep teeth and gums healthy in the short-term but entrench that habit for life. It may seem unnecessary to floss tiny temporary teeth are often well-spaced as jaws grow to accommodate the adult teeth. But flossing is a difficult habit to teach later on so start early getting children used to the process. At this stage, it really doesn’t matter if they are doing it right, as long as they do it.
Regular Trips to the Dentist
Of course, regular visits to the dentist are part of the habit. Whether you choose a family dentistry practice or a specialized kids dentist, regular visits will result in less anxiety associated with the dental visit. They also allow the hygienist and dentist to identify and monitor any issues with teeth and gums, provide education on how to brush and floss properly, and identify the need for orthodontics such as braces or Invisalign at early stages. Kids will be proud to get a clean bill of oral health and kudos for a job well done from the kids dentist which in turn is an incentive to keep up the routine and come back again next time.
Healthy Teeth for Life
The sooner regular oral hygiene habits form the better. When children have can’t remember a time when they didn’t brush or floss, they will be more likely to continue with the habits into adulthood. Set kids up for success by establishing oral hygiene routines early and building the brushing and flossing habits that will help result in a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
Kids Dentist in Waterdown – About Cranberry Hill Dentistry
Cranberry Hill Dentistry is home to Dr. Aaron Langdon, a children’s dentist in Waterdown. With the goal of creating a warm and inviting environment for children and their families, Dr. Langdon and his team of professionals are committed to providing kid-friendly family dentistry using the most up-to-date dentistry techniques and technology. Our clinic prioritizes patient health and education. We invite you to connect with us to make an appointment. Contact us by calling 905-689-9551 or filling out the form below.