Oral hygiene habits to teach your children at different stages.

When it comes to supporting your child’s oral health and development, pediatric oral hygiene is incredibly important. However, it can also be a difficult topic to navigate. Your child moves through different stages, each of which requires its own unique approach. These tips will help you instill lifelong habits to help protect your child’s smile.

The Early Years: Introducing Oral Hygiene Practices

The early years are a crucial period of your child’s oral hygiene journey. During this time, they’re entirely dependent on you to maintain their oral health. Doing so starts even before their first teeth emerge. You should clean your infant’s gums after each feeding using a moistened cloth wrapped around a finger. Remember to be gentle.

To ensure proper health and development, one thing to avoid is letting your baby feed from a bottle at will. You should stick to dedicated feeding periods instead. Allowing your infant to drink slowly over long periods of time provides an environment where bacteria can thrive, leading to tooth decay once teeth emerge. This is an issue called “baby bottle rot.”

Another key landmark during this period is the first visit to the dentist. In general, you should bring your child in within six months of the emergence of their first tooth or by their first birthday, whichever comes first.

Toddler and Preschool Years: Making Brushing Fun

Once your child reaches the age of two, you can start to teach them more about oral hygiene for kids. This is the time to begin using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste when brushing your child’s teeth, teaching them to spit it out and making sure to watch that they don’t swallow.

Over the next few years, your child may become more interested in brushing their own teeth. It can help to give them some time during brushing to try it on their own. Instruct them on basic principles, such as covering every tooth and moving in circles. However, keep in mind that you’re still responsible for the actual brushing.

One important area to watch around the age of three is continued pacifier use and thumb-sucking. Past this age, these activities can have a considerable impact on healthy development, which could require orthodontic treatment later on. Watch for these habits and bring them up with your child’s dentist if you notice them.

School-Age Children: Encouraging Independence With Proper Techniques

School-age children can transition to supervised brushing. This is where they handle the brushing themselves, while you watch to ensure that they’re going for long enough and using the proper tooth-brushing technique. Methods such as sticker charts and other rewards can be a great way to encourage oral hygiene for kids during this stage.

Keep an eye on your child’s smile for small white or brown spots that can indicate tooth decay, and watch to see whether they show signs of pain or discomfort when biting or chewing. Your child may experience cavities or tooth decay without communicating about it.

It’s important to seek treatment, even if these issues affect baby teeth. They still need treatment, whether with stainless steel crowns for temporary protection or space maintainers, to prevent developmental issues.

The Role of Nutrition: Support healthy teeth from the inside out.

Of course, your child’s diet is also important. Ensure that your child has a diverse diet filled with vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium and vitamin D, to ensure a healthy smile. As your child grows, get them involved in the process of planning healthy school lunches and snacks so that they understand the importance of nutrition.

Regular Dental Checkups: Partnering With Your Pediatric Dentist

By their first birthday or within six months after their first tooth emerges, whichever comes first, your child should have their first visit to a pediatric dentist. From then on, they should have routine visits every six months. Those visits are vital for identifying any oral health or development issues, and providing effective preventive care.

Starting your child out with consistent visits to the dentist can set them up for a lifetime of good oral health. Not only does this allow them to start out on the right foot, but it also makes them more likely to continue the habit of routine dental visits as they grow older.

Guidance From Your Kid’s Dentist Near Granite City

You can always reach out to the experts at Metro East Dental Care to find the best pediatric dentistry advice and care to guide your child’s healthy development. We also offer a variety of options for affording your care, as we accept most dental insurances and partner with CareCredit and Lending Club to provide financing options. You can also consider our membership plans to save on routine dental care for your child.

With the right approach to oral hygiene, dental care, and development, you can provide your child with the best foundation for lifelong oral health. Schedule their next pediatric dental checkup with Metro East Dental Care today.