Happy mother and daughter brushing their teeth

Young children often mimic the actions of parents as an action of adoration. Parents may take advantage of the developmental behavior by teaching youngsters good oral hygiene habits from an early age. By learning and imitating good habits while young, children are less likely to suffer poor oral health later in life.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay remains the most common childhood health problem in the United States. Due to the complexities of raising children, parents may not think about how oral hygiene affects the overall health.

Good oral health is especially important in expectant mothers, as cavities, gingivitis, loose teeth and a substandard diet can cause preterm labor. Periodontal disease can also affect the health of an unborn child. Once the baby arrives, parents should monitor the child’s dental development and record each milestone.

Toddlers should undergo their first dental appointment at approximately 12 months of age or six months after the first tooth appears. By consulting with a dentist early in the youngster’s life, parents gain helpful information concerning proper oral care from the onset.

Diet directly affects a child’s dental and overall health. Frequent consumption of sweet beverages and foods often cause tooth decay. Consuming sweet beverages and foods before naps and bedtime presents a particular hazard to teeth. The sugars in the substances are not rinsed by saliva and remain on gums and teeth for an extended length of time, as the child sleeps.

If having a bottle before sleep is unavoidable, parents should perform simple oral care before the child falls asleep. Use a soft, moist washcloth or gauze, and gently wipe inside the infant’s mouth. Parents should perform oral care at least twice daily, especially after feedings. This act helps eliminate a food source for potentially harmful bacteria.

Parents may introduce tooth brushing to an infant with the eruption of the first tooth. Choose a soft- bristled brush with a small head and long handle. Use a wet brush until the baby becomes accustomed to oral care. Later, apply just a tiny amount of toothpaste no bigger than a rice grain. Be sure to rinse or wipe the paste from the child’s mouth.

Moms and dads should continue performing oral care for the infant until they are old enough to manage the toothbrush without assistance. Use a pea-sized dab of fluoridated toothpaste once the child is three years of age. Teach the youngster to brush all sides of the teeth. Supervise the activity until the child can adequately brush all of their teeth.

Teaching children good oral hygiene habits when they are young will help maintain their teeth for a lifetime.