When you give your child the tools for good teeth, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of bright smiles! Starting good habits as early as possible will help your kids make brushing a regular part of their daily routine as they grow. Here’s our guide to childhood dental care, from baby’s first tooth to their first dental visit, and beyond.
Starting Good Habits by Age
Age 6 Months to 2 Years
Dental care should start as soon as your baby gets their first tooth. Use a damp washcloth to clean the baby’s gums and new teeth. You can also use a soft baby toothbrush with water, or give them a silicone brush to chew on that will stimulate their gums.
When they’re teething, babies will put anything into their mouths, so it’s important to keep their mouths and their teething toys clean. Sanitize toys in boiling water to get rid of harmful bacteria. Freezing your baby’s teething toys will also sanitize them, and the cold sensation will be soothing on their tender gums.
Age 2 to 4 Years
Now is the time to start teaching your child how to brush their own teeth. They’ll still need assistance, but letting them practice will help build confidence and good habits, too. Use only a very small amount of toothpaste, and teach your child how to spit it out after brushing.
Toddlers often try to eat toothpaste because of its sweet taste, but it’s not meant to be swallowed. Start with a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice, and work up to a pea-sized amount as they get older and get more teeth.
It’s also time for their first trip to the dentist! You can prepare by practicing at home—sitting still in a chair and “opening wide”—and explaining what to expect when they’re at the dentist’s office. Reading stories about going to the dentist can also help your child learn that there’s nothing to be nervous about.
At the dentist, we’ll check to see how their jaw is growing and whether their teeth are erupting properly. Thumbsucking is another topic that might come up. If your child habitually sucks on their thumb or a pacifier, it could change the shape of their mouth and damage their dental development. You may need to help your child find another method of self-soothing, in order to protect their teeth.
Age 5 to 10 Years
When your child starts losing their baby teeth, it’s time to emphasize the importance of caring for their permanent teeth. Visits from the tooth fairy may be exciting, but while there’s so much focus on their teeth, kids should also learn how to prevent cavities and keep their teeth and gums healthy.
A healthy diet is also important for healthy teeth. Limiting sugary drinks and processed foods and encouraging your kids to eat healthy snacks will help keep their teeth strong and cavity-free.
And, even if they’re brushing independently by this point, you should still check in to make sure their teeth are getting cleaned. Are they reaching their back molars? Are they brushing their gums and tongue? Do they brush gently and thoroughly? Have they learned how to floss yet?
Kids get distracted easily, so it’s important to make sure they brush for at least two minutes, twice a day. Setting a timer or playing a song to brush to can help form good habits. Or, consider getting an electric toothbrush for older kids, to help them achieve a more thorough clean.
Is Your Child Due for a Dental Visit?
No matter their age, all kids should have a dental checkup every six months. Our friendly dentists will teach your child proper brushing and flossing techniques, giving them the tools they need to maintain a healthy smile for the rest of their lives. Schedule an appointment at Woodmen Dental Group in Falcon, Colorado. We’ll help keep your kids cavity-free and smiling bright!