Healthy Oral Hygiene Routine for Children

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Good oral health always goes hand in hand with proper oral hygiene routines. Oral hygiene is defined as: the effort to keep one’s mouth and teeth clean and healthy. The maintenance of oral hygiene in children is wholly dependent upon parents or caregivers, who are therefore responsible for providing a simple routine.

Early visits with a dentist are generally not part of the check-up routine that follows after the birth of a child. However, some paediatric practices are beginning to provide oral health screenings during health visits. The parents generally decide when their child is ready for a visit to the family dentist. Typically, unless there is a problem, the first visit to a dentist should be around the age of one, or when the first teeth erupt.

Although children do not keep their ‘milk teeth’ it is still important to take care of them. The quality of the teeth and gums will provide great support for their new adult set. It is imperative that you start caring for your child’s teeth as soon as the first one appears.

First Steps for Creating a Good Oral Hygiene Routine:

  • Use a clean, damp cloth to clean the baby’s first tooth. Switch to a child friendly toothbrush, with soft bristles and a small handle when more teeth develop.
  • Encourage brushing twice daily with a children’s toothpaste or gel. Let them see how you brush your teeth, too.
  • Supervise to ensure that the child is doing a correct job.
  • Encourage children to eat healthy, nutritious foods, and you do the same to be a good example.
  • Discuss the need for fluoridated toothpaste with a dentist, as it usually isn’t suitable for children until they are older.
  • Discuss the need for braces with an orthodontist. Askew or misaligned teeth can have a profound negative effect on the health and cleanliness of your child’s teeth.

Benefits of Fluoride

If it is not already incorporated within your water, fluoride toothpaste may be recommended. Fluoride has a strong reputation for protecting teeth from decay in two ways:

  • First, when bacteria in the mouth mix with sugar, acid is formed. The acid can potentially erode tooth enamel and damage teeth. This is called demineralization, and fluoride protects teeth from this process.
  • For teeth that already suffer from decay, fluoride collects in the damaged areas and begins to strengthen the enamel. In short, fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and making teeth stronger.

When your child is very young, supervision is recommended when using toothpastes containing fluoride. Swallowing too much fluoride can cause white spots on future teeth that are developing under the gums. White spots are usually relatively mild and not very noticeable, but can range to severe cases causing the teeth to look extremely stained.

Once children learn to spit toothpaste out during brushing, they can use fluoride toothpaste. It is vital that you teach your children to properly rinse their mouth with a mild mouthwash and not to swallow the toothpaste!

First Dental Visit

Your child’s first impressions of dentists will partly rely on you. As far as they are concerned, the dentist could be as exciting as a trip to the zoo.

While you might prefer to sit in a cage with a wild animal, rather than visit the dentist, your child does not have to know this. Your child’s first dental visit will probably be short and friendly. Depending on the age of your child, the dentist might have you accompany him/her into the examination room, or you may be asked to sit in the waiting room.

The dentist will examine your child’s mouth, teeth, gums and bite as he looks for any signs of decay or misalignment. Findings and recommendations for good oral health will then be discussed with you. You will have an opportunity to ask the dentist any questions, or bring up any concerns. Follow the dentist’s recommendation for the next visit and finalize an appointment before you leave the dental practice.

Rick is a freelance writer and regularly guest posts on health and parenting sites. His background is in dentistry, and he is currently plying his trade with the guys over at the where he welcomes your visit.

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