Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t necessary to wait until your child has a mouthful of teeth before getting started with positive and proactive oral health care. The reason being that a baby’s teeth actually begin forming and mineralising after about six weeks of pregnancy. Of course, at this time looking after your baby’s health and wellbeing comes down to your own lifestyle, dietary choices and health in general. But as soon as they are born, you need to begin thinking about what exactly you can and should be doing for the sake of their immediate and long-term oral health.
Babies and kids have a habit of being extremely uncooperative when it comes to oral hygiene in general. Nevertheless, there’s nothing more distressing for pretty much everyone involved than having to take a child to a dentist for an unpleasant procedure. Which is why it makes sense to avoid all such eventualities altogether, if and when possible.
So while there will always be instances, abnormalities and oral health problems that cannot be avoided, bear in mind the following 10 tips and chances are you’ll be giving your kids the best possible start:
1 – Start Early
First of all, and as already touched upon, the earlier you get started with proactive oral healthcare, the better. Dentists generally advise ensuring that a baby’s gums and slowly emerging teeth are cleaned gently after each time they are fed, using a wet gauze pad and wiping very gently by hand. This will ensure that as little as possible is left behind to potentially lead to bacteria build up.
2 – Brush Carefully
Just as soon as their baby teeth are beginning to make their first appearance, you should switch to an extremely gentle baby toothbrush with full expert recommendation. Baby teeth can be cleaned and cared for from a much earlier age than most parents realise – it’s simply a case of being extremely gentle, choosing the perfect brush for the job and using only the finest amount of appropriate fluoride toothpaste.
3 – Teach Positive Habits
From the age of about two, it becomes perfectly possible to start instilling a positive oral hygiene habits and teaching your kids how to get the job done properly. It most likely will not be until your child is at least five years old that they have the dexterity to effectively and thoroughly clean their own teeth and mouth. Nevertheless, you can begin teaching them how to clean their teeth, being sure to follow up their efforts yourself to ensure their mouth is sufficiently clean. As they get a little older, you can also think about introducing the very best mouthwash for gums and teeth designed specifically for children and backed by dental professional recommendations. The earlier you can get them into these kinds of positive habits, the higher the likelihood they will stick for life.
4 – Check Your Water Supply
Depending on where you live, it is perfectly possible that your home water supply is or is not fluoridated. In the case of the latter, it may be worth speaking to your dentist for a little advice on available fluoride supplements and whether or not they are available. To trace amounts of fluoride in the average home water supply really can add up to a cumulative difference when it comes to long-term oral health. If unsure, speak to your water provider or dentist for more information.
5 – Beware Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
It’s important to remember that almost everything you give your baby by way of a bottle or dummy contains a least a small amount of sugar – including breast milk. As such, if your baby is allowed to sleep with a dummy or bottle that contains anything other than water, their new teeth and gums may be exposed to sugar for a prolonged period. The longer this exposure continues, the higher the likelihood of baby bottle tooth decay.
6 – Control Sugar Intake
Kids naturally have something of an obsession with sugar that begins almost at birth. They simply cannot get enough of the sweet stuff, but it’s important to remember that each and every time sugar is consumed, it takes at least half an hour for the saliva in the mouth to neutralise the acid that causes harm to teeth and gums. Practicing good oral hygiene in general can certainly help, but so too can keeping a close eye on sugar intake and limiting any foods, drinks or snacks that are particularly high in sugar.
7 – Encourage Gum Chewing
Even if it’s something you don’t find particularly appealing yourself, it may be a good idea in the best interests of your child’s oral health to encourage them to chew gum from the earliest safe age. Younger children of course cannot be provided with chewing gum, but as your child gets a little older gum has the potential to be enormously beneficial in maintaining strong oral health. Just be sure to teach them at the same time a few important rules on the subject of gum chewing and disposal etiquette!
8 – Emphasise The Importance Of Flossing
The time may not have yet come to compare water flossers for your child, but this doesn’t mean you cannot drive home the critical importance of flossing every single day. One of the biggest mistakes made by so many parents is that of attempting to introduce flossing at such a late stage that the child naturally believes that as they are only coming across it now, it can’t be that important. Again, positive habits from an early age tend to become positive habits for life.
9 – Visit Your Dentist
It’s recommended that children be first brought to the dentist around the time they turn one-year-old, after which they should be brought back periodically as recommended by the dentist. Even if it’s something of a daunting prospect for both of you, it is of critical importance to have everything looked at during these crucial early stages, in order to predict and pre-empt as many problems as possible going forward.
10 – Beware Home Hazards
Last but not least, research shows that more than 50% of all dental injuries sustained by children under the age of seven are the direct result of some kind of collision or accident involving home furniture. Slips, trips, bangs, bumps and so on, there’s quite a lot around the average home that can really do a number on a child’s delicate teeth!