Poor oral health is a serious problem for a lot of kids in the United States. About 20 percent of kids aged 5-11 have at least one decayed tooth that’s gone untreated, and the same is true for 13 percent of kids aged 12-19.
Have you recently taken your child to the dentist, only to find out that they have cavities or are at risk of developing other dental health issues? If this is the case, it’s up to you as a parent to start teaching them good oral hygiene.
Read on to learn some essential oral hygiene instructions every parent should be teaching their kids.
The Importance of Oral Hygiene for Kids
Some people are under the impression that oral hygiene isn’t important for kids, especially young kids, because they’re just going to lose their baby teeth anyway. In reality, though, it’s imperative that kids learn to care for their teeth and gums early on.
The following are some key reasons why oral hygiene matters for kids:
The sooner you start teaching your child proper tooth care habits, the easier it’ll be for them to carry those habits into their teenage and adult years. Give your kids the tools they need now to have good oral health when they’re older.
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
Kids who don’t start brushing and caring for their teeth at a young age are more likely to experience tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease when they get older. Not only will this lead to expensive fillings and treatments, but it can also foster a fear of the dentist since they’ll associate visits with painful, difficult procedures.
Increased Risk of Speech and Chewing Problems
If your child experiences tooth decay at a young age, they may be more prone to premature tooth loss. This can also affect the way their teeth grow back in and can alter the way they chew and speak. This can lead to serious problems, include issues with jaw and tooth alignment, as they get older.
Top 5 Oral Hygiene Instructions
You know that it’s important to make oral hygiene a priority. It’s not always easy to give kids the cues and instructions they need to take good care of their teeth, though.
Try these five tips to ensure your kids have healthy teeth and gums:
1. Brush Their Teeth Twice Per Day
Start by establishing the habit of brushing your child’s teeth twice per day. Brush them at the same time in the morning and at night. This will help them to create a habit and eventually be able to brush on their own without your prompting.
2. Be a Good Example
Make sure you’re modeling good oral hygiene, too. Brush your teeth at the same time as your kids so they can see you, the person they look up to most in the world, doing it. This will help to reinforce the behavior and encourage them to do it themselves.
3. Limit Sugar Consumption
Do your best to minimize the amount of sugar your child consumes. Kids who drink lots of juice or who eat lots of sugary foods are more likely to experience cavities and tooth decay than those who do not. make these things occasional treats rather than everyday occurrences.
4. Promote Hydration
Drinking water (plain water without any juice mixed in) will help to rinse your child’s mouth out between meals. This also helps to reduce the amount of plaque and food residue that remains on their teeth during the day, which can lower their risk of developing cavities.
5. Make It Fun
Finally, do your best to make oral hygiene fun. Play your kids’ favorite music during tooth brushing time so they can create a positive association with it. You can also pair tooth brushing with something else fun that they get to do afterward, such as reading a favorite book or playing a short game before bed.
Oral Hygiene FAQs
At this point, you know the basics of dental care for kids. You might still have questions, though. If this is the case for you, here are answers to some frequently asked kids oral hygiene questions:
When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist?
Your child should have their first dental checkup when their first tooth comes in. At the latest, they should see the dentist by their first birthday.
How Often Should They See the Dentist?
Like adults, kids do best seeing the dentist twice per year. Going once every six months for a professional cleaning helps to prevent serious dental issues from developing and makes it easier to catch potential problems before they escalate.
Should I Find a Pediatric Dentist?
If your child is very young, a pediatric dentist is probably best. They’ll have equipment that’s made for a child and that will make the visit more comfortable and less intimidating for them.
Pediatric dentists also tend to be more patient with kids who might be scared, which can make for a more pleasant experience for everyone involved.
When Should My Child Get Braces?
There’s not a clear right answer to this question. In general, though, the best age for braces is usually somewhere between 9 and 14. If your child is around this age and you’re unsure whether or not braces are right for them, talk to their dentist to see what they recommend.
Prioritize Your Kids’ Dental Care Today
It’s clear that oral hygiene is essential for your kids if you want them to grow up to have strong, healthy teeth (and if you want to save yourself from expensive dental bills).
Now that you know more about the specific oral hygiene instructions that you can give your kids to help them keep their teeth clean, it’s time to put them into practice. Start using these instructions today and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to practice good oral hygiene in your household. If you want to learn more about proper dental care, check out some of the other articles in the Health section of our site today.