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Dental hygiene for children – Tips for good oral hygiene from baby to teenager!

The basis for healthy permanent dentition in children and adolescents is in the early years of life. Teaching them good dental hygiene from an early age is a great assurance for the development of strong and healthy teeth later in life. Parents can start by setting an example and teaching their children the importance of good oral hygiene. Children learn more by imitating their parents, and they do better because of the affection and praise they receive for their efforts.

Neglecting a child’s oral care is a serious mistake that parents can make. Poor nutrition and tooth cleaning in the first two years of a child’s life have been linked to tooth decay in most children. Tooth decay is five times more common than asthma in children. The development of cavities in primary teeth also increases the risk of decay in permanent teeth. Therefore, it is important for parents to start teaching their children good dental hygiene at an early age to prevent dental problems as they get older.

When is the right time to start teaching children good oral hygiene?

Proper oral care begins before teeth appear. It is recommended that parents wipe their child’s gums with water using a baby toothbrush (without toothpaste) or a soft cloth after feeding. This will help remove harmful bacteria. Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle, as this can also damage his gums and teeth, as milk sugars or juice that have been left in your baby’s mouth for hours will eat away at the tooth enamel, forming what’s called the bottle mouth. Symptoms of a bottle mouth are discolouration, tingling or rough front teeth. Severe cases of baby bottle mouth can lead to tooth decay and the infected tooth must be extracted before permanent teeth grow in.

A good rule of thumb is to start brushing regularly as soon as the first teeth appear. Flossing can be used as soon as the child has teeth in contact with each other, usually around the age of 2 or 3. However, ask your dentist for advice first, as not all children need to floss at this age. Dentists may also recommend a fluoride-free toothpaste before the child turns 2 years old. Give your child a daily mouth cleaning, especially after meals, and make it a regular dental routine.

Your child’s first visit to the dentist

The pediatric dentist is a dentist who specializes in children’s dental health, and his main focus is prevention and maintenance. He or she is qualified to manage a child’s dental problems and can refer you to other specialists, such as an oral surgeon or orthodontist, for any special procedures that need to be performed.

The right time to take your child to the dentist is after his or her first birthday. The dentist will examine your child’s mouth to determine if brushing and flossing are correct. Visits to the dentist are important for the early detection and prevention of potential dental problems. These visits can also help your child become accustomed to and familiarized with the dentist, and he or she will be less afraid of dental exams in the future.

There are three main reasons why you should take your child to the dentist:

You will know if you are doing a good oral cleaning at home with your child.
You and your dentist can help prevent future dental problems.
Your dentist can determine if there are problems and treat them.
However, if your child is afraid to go to the dentist and it’s difficult for you to bring him or her for regular checkups, you can help your child relax and feel comfortable by following these simple tips:

Take your child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth is extracted or at the age of 1 year. The younger your child goes to the dentist, the better.

Use positive words such as “strong, healthy teeth” and avoid using the words “pain”, “shot” or “wrong”.

Keep the first visit simple and don’t give your child too many details, such as a filling or tooth extraction, to avoid unnecessary anxiety for the child. However, don’t give your child false hope, even if treatment is necessary.

Familiarize your child with the routine of dental check-ups before the first visit by playing and pretending to be the dentist and the patient. Make it fun and enjoyable and allow your child to role-play by brushing and checking the teeth of a stuffed toy or doll.

Never take your child with you during your own dental check-ups, as you yourself may be unknowingly anxious and the child will feel it. Adult dental exams take place in a completely different environment than pediatric dental clinics.

Be prepared for a little excitement while remaining calm. Let the dentist and staff take care of the child who is resisting because it is part of their job and they are trained to do so. You may be asked to keep your distance or hold your child’s hand to make them comfortable.

Do not promise your child treatment if he or she behaves well at the dental clinic. This could send the wrong message to your child (like what’s so scary that you tell him or her not to cry, or why you insist that the dentist clean his or her teeth if you’re going to give him or her a chocolate after the visit). Just praise your child for his good behaviour and tell him how proud you are of him for that.

Let your child know that visits to the dentist are necessary to make sure their teeth are always clean and strong. Emphasize the importance of proper dental care.
Children’s dental hygiene can also present difficulties or obstacles. Here are some of these:

Babies

Bottle tooth decay
Thumb sucker
Having white stains on the teeth
Toddlers

Fear of the dentist
Spots due to antibiotics
Loving sweets
The difficulty of scheduling a dental routine
Mouth injury while playing
High school students

Parents can no longer monitor what their child eats during meals or snacks when the child starts school.
Teenagers

Wearing braces
Mouth injury due to sport
Unpredictable eating habits
By helping your children learn the right way to take care of their teeth, it will become a habit that will last until they become adults. Parents need to be firm in their oral care and emphasize the importance of good dental hygiene for their children. They can begin to teach their child by example. Below are several steps you can take to start providing oral care and cleaning your children’s teeth:

Babies 0 to 2 years old :

Wipe gums with water using a toothbrush or soft cloth.
Start cleaning the mouth as soon as the first tooth appears.
Use a soft children’s toothbrush because more and more teeth are starting to appear, but don’t use toothpaste yet.
Be patient because it will be hard for the baby to get used to this dental routine at first.
Children from 2 to 7 years old

Toothpaste is now allowed, but only in small pea-sized amounts when brushing teeth.
You can supervise brushing and it should be done twice a day – in the morning and before going to bed at night.
Make sure your child never swallows or eats toothpaste.
Complete brushing should take 3 minutes
Summary :

A child’s first teacher is his or her parents and they play an important role in the child’s oral health as well as in his or her general health. Good dental hygiene can go a long way in helping parents prevent tooth decay in their children and instill healthy oral habits that they can maintain into adulthood. Parents need to get their children excited about regular oral hygiene and make it more fun and acceptable to children by helping them in their learning process towards strong, healthy teeth and gums.