Oral Health for Kids: From Baby’s First Tooth and Older

Parents have the toughest job on the planet. Our little people look to us for guidance on everything, including how to care for our teeth and maintain proper oral health. If we can teach our kids at a young age why they need to brush, floss, and rinse, we set them up for a lifetime of success. Regular trips to the dental office are a must, but great preventative dental care, like everything else, starts at home.

Infants & Babies

This starts as soon as your baby gets his or her first tooth. It is all pretty easy right now. The hardest part will be dealing with the pain as their little teeth break through the gums. Even before they start teething, use a soft, moist washcloth or finger brush to clean their gums after they eat.

Once that first tooth pops through (and you will know it’s coming), use a baby toothbrush to keep it clean. Just like everyone else, try to brush them twice a day. Those chompers might not be in there for too long, but we still have to prevent decay.

Toddlers

Now the work really starts. Trust us, at some point during this journey, you will wrestle a raging 3-year-old to the bathroom floor, wrap your legs around them so they can’t get away, and proceed to brush their teeth for two minutes. You will threaten them with everything up to and including a graphic, detailed description of the medical procedure that happens to people who get cavities. It’s not going to be fun. But it is important.

In addition to learning Greco-Roman wrestling, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.

  • Make sure the toothpaste and toothbrush you are using are meant for kids under four.
  • Use the proper amount of toothpaste. A pea-sized dollop will do.
  • Let them try brushing first and follow up when they’re done.
  • Time is important, so find a song they like or sing a catchy tune to make sure they brush long enough.
  • Most importantly, be patient with yourself and your youngster. This is not going to be a seamless process every time, but it’s vital to make sure you get them accustomed to a daily dental care routine.

Kids

Hopefully, the wrestling matches are over and now you can make brushing part of your morning and nighttime routines. They may still need direction, but they should be fairly independent. This is also where you can lead by example. They need to see you brushing and flossing every day. A few worthwhile tips:

  • Keep their dental supplies handy. Brush, flossers, and fluoride rinse need to be accessible. (Children under the age of 6 should avoid fluoride rinse and mouthwash for risk of ingestion.)
  • Help children understand the oral care process and why it’s important.
  • Brush with them.
  • Use a timer or smartphone app to make sure they are brushing their teeth for the proper amount of time
  • Make sure to follow up with them.
  • If it means they’re less likely to complain and engage in proper dental habits, by all means, buy them the brush, floss, and rinse that features the superhero or cartoon they like.

Preteens & Teenagers

They know what to do. Just make them do it. Appeals to vanity might be the most persuasive method here. Let them know that bad breath isn’t cool and the school dance is going to be pretty tough if they neglect oral care. Just in case you need a few pointers:

  • Keep the basics (toothbrush, floss, and mouthwash) well-stocked.
  • Remind them to brush and floss.
  • And, like every other age, make certain they are seeing a dental care provider regularly.

For more information or to set up teeth cleaning appointments, consider Mesa Street Dental, a highly-qualified and professional dentist office in El Paso, Texas offering both general and cosmetic dentistry services. At Mesa Street Dental, we treat our patients with kindness and respect, so you can receive the highest level of care in a friendly and inviting atmosphere. Contact us today—your teeth will thank you!