We all want our kids to have beautiful teeth (and lovely smiles); and there’s no need to wait until they have a full set of teeth to lay a good foundation for their oral health. Good dental habits early on will ensure that your child has the best oral health as they grow up.

Here are six tips to ensure that your kids have consistently healthy teeth and gums.

1) Start the oral care early on

Even before your child has their first set of teeth, you can start by gently cleaning their mouth with a warm and wet washcloth. You don’t need to use toothpaste yet. Bacteria in the mouth usually doesn’t harm the gums before teeth emerge; but it’s difficult to tell the exact time when the teeth are starting to push through so it’s better to start early.

Let your child see you brush your teeth. Kids always want to do what their parents do, especially if you make it look fun!

2) Beware of baby bottle tooth decay

Don’t let your child go to sleep with a bottle filled with milk, juice or anything other than water. When teeth are frequently exposed to sugar-containing fluids (including breast milk and formula) and for long periods of time; there is a much higher chance for these liquids to cause tooth decay.

I understand this can be a very difficult habit to stop. If you persevere and find a strategy in stopping it, you will drastically decrease the likelihood of tooth decay in your child.

3) Help them to brush their teeth properly

When they’re old enough to want to brush on their own, guide them to do the brushing movements correctly. Don’t worry too much about brushing perfectly, as that will be too difficult at the beginning. Make it fun by using a timer set for two minutes or find a song to play while brushing!

My daughter really liked to hear “Brush Your Teeth” by Lah-Lah’s Big Live Band.

Yummy toothpaste will also help a lot with encouraging your child to brush. You might need to try a couple of different brands. My daughter’s favourite is the Oral-B Stages Berry Bubble. The first time she had a sniff and said “Smells like GOOD!” I wish that adult toothpaste tasted that nice.

4) Control the intake of sugary foods

Tooth decay happens when plaque come into contact with sugar in the mouth, creating acid to attack and dissolve the teeth. If kids have too many sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or non-nutritious snacks, they could be at risk for tooth decay.

Give them a glass of water after they finish a meal – it’ll be healthier for them and washes their teeth and mouth. Cheese is also good.

5) Use fluoridated toothpaste

Cavities and tooth decay can be prevented with fluoride; which helps to repair the early stages of tooth decay even before it becomes visible. It becomes incorporated into the chemical structure of enamel and makes it more resistant to acid. Fluoride is just like any other nutrient; it is safe when used appropriately.

The best method is to use fluoridated toothpaste. Kids toothpaste from the reputable manufacturers will contain fluoride at a lower concentration compared to adults toothpaste. Use just a small smear. It is fine to swallow the small amount of toothpaste, but still try to encourage them to spit it out.

6) Visit the Dentist regularly

When you visit the dentist, ease your child’s concerns if they are worried and make the trip as positive and relaxing as possible. See a dentist who likes seeing children so that you know your child will have a better experience. Take your child for regular check-ups as advised by your dentist.

SHARE your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Main image source: Shutterstock

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  • make it fun and set a good example

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  • regular dentist visits and making sure we are using the right toothpaste – kids can use adult toothpaste as long as it is only a small amount and they brush their teeth properly. It’s better for them than the kids one!


    • I would be careful about using adults toothpaste on young children. Yes it is more effective against decay, but there is a higher risk of developing tooth fluorosis. I strongly advise discussing this with your dentist before making this change.

    Reply


  • Swishing water around your mouth also helps with oral hygiene.

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  • Thanks for the comments! These principles are totally applicable to adults as well, except hopefully the baby bottle!

    Baking soda is very abrasive to teeth and is increases the risk of tooth sensitivity.

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  • Thanks for the great tips and regular yearly dentist visits is a must for every-one.

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  • Great article – Thankfully as they grow older, these days, they want to continue taking care of their teeth and hygiene. Its great to see. My kids are now fanatical about teeth brushing :)

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  • I’ve done and do all the things you mention here :) When my bub didn’t have yet I used a wee rubber toothbrush what goes around your finger (ordered it online). Once she started teething I began with using bakingsoda (instead of toothpaste) to brush her teeth.


    • We should clean our teeth after every meal, not just after dinner at night and worse still wait until bed time.. Food left on teeth all day starts to create decay for your teeth and possibly impact on your gums too.
      Teach your children to spit out the toohpaste as soon as you can.

    Reply

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