Practicing good oral hygiene in kids
Updated: Aug 30, 2021
This is not one of my favorite topics to blog about, but I think it is necessary based on my experience with my kids, that I highlight the importance of helping your child to practice good oral hygiene, especially starting at a younger age.
Growing up I was told as kids to brush my teeth twice a day, in the morning and the evening. Yes, I did it, but I didn't really understand the significance of doing it. Fast forward to today and having to teach my kids the same thing, I admit, I didn't really give it much thought either. However, after having made numerous trips to the dentist with my kids, I have learned quite a bit of new oral hygiene practices that never really crossed my mind at all, neither did I hear it growing up.
I have two boys, a 5-year old(almost 6) and a 4-year-old. My second son, I breastfed for a longer time than my first. Now that they are older, I have had 2 quite different and rather interesting experiences with their teeth. My eldest never had cavities before and my youngest is given me a surprise at every turn. I thought I had it properly managed and all figured out up until now. I am however grateful for the knowledge that I am receiving now to help them take better care of their permanent teeth.
Here are a few of my tips that I have discovered along the way. I do hope that it will also help you to do the same for your kids as well.
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Have you also found any good dental hygiene tips that you could share? Please feel free to add to my list, or ask your questions or concerns in our FORUM section. I would be happy to help you!
“Practicing good oral hygiene in kids is so important but often times neglected.”
1. START AT AN EARLY AGE
I missed this part and it’s because I didn’t know and that’s ok. With diaper changing, burping, feeding, and everything else that comes with taking care of a baby, I didn’t really think about my baby's dental oral hygiene.
I did however learn a tip from my mother in law who I watched since birth use a soft cloth to clean my eldest son's teeth as a baby after bath time, both in the mornings and at night.
An alternative to the soft cloth is to also use a small finger toothbrush, that can be used to clean their gums. It's relatively easy to use and helps to start the process of good oral hygiene practices.
Once teeth start to erupt through the gum, which is around the time that teething begins, you can transition to other dental products for kids.
2. TOOTH DECAY FROM BREAST AND BOTTLE FEEDING
This was something I was not aware of as a new mom. Breastfeeding in particular, especially exclusive breastfeeding or bottle-feeding can cause tooth decay. Breast milk when not removed can sit on the teeth and lead to early tooth decay in kids.
When teeth are badly decayed, it sometimes has to be removed before the permanent teeth are ready to come out.
This is why practicing good oral hygiene at an early age is very important especially in exclusive breastfeeding around the clock or bottle feeding.
3. SONGS THAT HELP TO MAKE BRUSHING TEETH FUN
I love singing songs to my kids to get them excited about brushing their teeth in the mornings and at night. Not only am I teaching them to love brushing their teeth, but it also acts as a reminder for them to let me know when I slip up that they didn't brush their teeth.
There is not one day that doesn't slip by that I am not reminded of this by my kids especially after a long day when I am ready to get them off to bed.
So here are some songs that you can sing with your kids right before brushing their teeth to get them ready and excited about this process:
4. BRUSHING TEETH TWICE DAILY
Brushing your teeth twice daily is the recommendation from most Dentists. It is also something that I too have been taught growing up. It was preferable after breakfast in the mornings and before bedtime in the nights. Some Dentists may also recommend brushing mid-day at lunchtime, or shortly after meals depending on your child's risk of getting cavities (some kids are at a higher risk of getting cavities than others).
It's a great idea, however, to start the process early with your kids, so that you can definitely foster healthy oral hygiene practices that will grow with them to adulthood.
It will also reduce the cost of expensive dentist visits for filling cavities, having tooth decay extractions, or getting dentures for teeth loss.
Flossing is a practice that I think is overlooked a lot of the time as parents even though we know its importance. It's just that as busy moms or dads with a million things to do, it can get hectic even trying to remember to do it. Even if we do remember, it's like a fighting match to get our kids to do it.
A recommendation that I received from a really helpful dental hygenist at our dentist is to purchase flavored dental floss that kids would love to use each day.
This can be purchased at the Dollar store or on Amazon. It was an instant winner with my kids and they look forward to picking their favorite color and flavor each night before bed. Flossing has now become a norm.
6. SET ROUTINE FOR MEALS
I know as moms it's tough to establish a routine, especially with the younger kids. I do like to practice routine for major things such as bedtime, mealtime, etc. because it helps me to manage my time and to also keep my kids on track especially during school time.
Click below for a related blog post on having a routine with kids and also time management for moms.
Routine also reduces a lot of restlessness and fatigue especially when they are tired.
The tip that I received from their Dentist which was an "aha" moment for me was to have 3 set meals that include breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with two set times for snacks. The dentist discourages around-the-clock snacking. Here is the reason why:
Around the clock snacking allows foods especially sugary foods (even fruits have sugars) to sit on the teeth for longer periods of time hence causing more tooth decay.
Wow, that makes so much sense! I like to call my youngest son the "snacker attacker" and it explains a lot.
7. HEALTHY SNACKING
Not only does the dentist recommended a set routine for meals, but he also recommends offering healthier less sugary foods.
For example, offering nuts and cheese, etc. is highly recommended over offering cookies and sweets. Now that makes even more sense.
The more sugary the food, the more likely that it will remain on the surface of the teeth or even get stuck in between the teeth and cause tooth decay.
8. FOLLOW UP WITH ROUTINE DENTIST APPOINTMENTS
This is another practice that I highly recommend, and that has helped me to keep track of the care and management of my kid's oral hygiene.
It is recommended to visit the dentist twice a year (every 6 months) for routine screening, cleaning, and ex-rays.
This will ensure that the Dentist will be aware of any problems that may arise from earlier on, preventing major problems from happening later on. When their teeth are in top shape, mommy is happy and daddy doesn't get the expensive cavity bills! It's a win-win situation for all of us.
9. GET ROUTINE FLORIDE TREATMENTS
Another suggestion is to get routine fluoride treatments, which are recommended every 6 months (or 3 to 6 months depending on your child's risk for getting cavities).
The fluoride acts as a shield to help to protect the teeth from tooth decay.
10. NO CAVITIES TRACKING CHART
I am super excited when my kids get a "no cavities" bill of health from the dentist. It helps to make the process a bit more exciting for them. Therefore, a reminder chart at home can also keep the fun and excitement going in between dentist visits.
Kids love knowing that they are a part of helping with the process of practicing good oral hygiene. As parents, we too hope that it will grow with them into adulthood.
Here is a FREE TASK CHECKLIST download that you can use to help track the process to healthier teeth and gums (It can also be used to track other activities such as bedtime, reading time, etc.). It can be placed on the wall in the bathroom or the bathroom door as a constant reminder daily.
Overall I do hope that these tips and tricks will help you to change certain behaviors when it comes to ensuring good oral hygiene practices that will grow with your kids for a lifetime. Remember as always to consult with your child's Dentist before implementing any new strategies.
Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.
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