Did you know that tooth decay affects 42% of children between the ages of 2 and 11? It’s true, and 39% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 will require fillings for cavities.
Imagine not only the cost of the care associated with dental issues but the pain, discomfort and time missed from school and work.
Yes, you can start a good dental hygiene routine with your little one as soon as they arrive in this world.
Dental Care by Age
Babies. While your child is growing, and when they eventually begin to teeth, provide them with mouth safe toys and objects to chew on. Once their teeth begin to emerge, use an adult fingertip tooth brush to massage their gums and keep their teeth clean.
In order to encourage good dental hygiene as they age, allow them to play with and mouth a soft-bristle toothbrush – just make sure not to use toothpaste.
Toddlers and Preschoolers. Once your child has grown in all their baby teeth, begin brushing them with a soft-bristle toothbrush and kid-friendly toothpaste. Encourage them to brush independently and teach them how to rinse and spit out the toothpaste. Use books, song and videos to teeth about proper dental care. If your child is hesitant about having their teeth brushed, roleplay with dolls and toys and purchase them a toothbrush with their favourite character on it.
School Age. By the time your child is school-aged, they should be brushing their teeth independently. If they are resistant, try giving them an electric toothbrush (fun!) or establish a reward chart and/or checklists. At this time, it is important to teach them the proper amount of time to brush their teeth. Purchase a kitchen timer to help them with this.
It is recommended that you supervise your child’s teeth brushing until at least the age of 7 to ensure that it is being done properly. When you begin brushing your little one’s teeth, divide their mouth into 6 sections and brush each for 20 seconds.
Start with the outer surfaces of the lower jaw and then the inner and biting surfaces. Repeat this technique with the upper jaw. Use small, circular motions near the gumline for best results.
Visit the Dentist
Beginning at 1 year old, your little one should begin visiting the dentist twice a year. Most children have initial fears when it comes to seeing the dentist – it’s a whole different environment than the doctor’s office and the checkup tends to be far more invasive.
There are some great ways you can prepare your child for their first checkup:
- Read books and videos about visiting the dentist. Allow your child to see their favourite characters deal with their dental checkup. Seeing their favourite character overcome their fears will be helpful to your child.
- Roleplay a dentist visit. Use mouth-safe objects, such as hard plastic spoons, to give each other a “check-up” or pretend to examine a toy or doll’s teeth. Practicing what will happen during the visit will help your child feel more prepared.
- Go first. Book an appointment for yourself at the same time and allow the dentist to examine your teeth first. Model to your child a posture of relaxation and assure them that you are not scared and it does not hurt (even if it does…your child doesn’t need to know the horrors of flossing yet).