Maintaining good oral health care throughout life is very beneficial to children’s dental health and it is important to begin good oral health care practices at a young age.  Parents should start cleaning their children’s teeth as soon as their first tooth appears and instill good dental health care habits in them until they are old enough to brush and floss on their own.  Children can start visiting the dentist for checkups and cleanings around the age of three because by this age they typically have all 20 baby teeth developed.  The following is a guide for caring for young children’s teeth and teaching them good oral health care practices that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Start Oral Care Early

As soon as a child’s first tooth appears, it is time to start regularly cleaning his or her teeth.  At first, it is best to wipe down the teeth and gums with a wet wash cloth or gauze which should be done after each feeding.  You can switch to a soft bristled tooth brush as more teeth grow in and start using toothpaste that does not have fluoride until the child learns to spit.  At about age 2 you can start teaching your child to spit and at around age 3 when your child understands to spit out toothpaste, you can switch to fluoridated toothpaste.

Children should brush their teeth twice a day and once all their baby teeth have grown in, you can introduce flossing into their routine.  A good way to teach your child good oral health care habits is by letting them watch you brush and floss so that they can imitate your actions.

Diet and Children’s Dental Health

Another way to maintain your children’s dental health is by controlling their diet.  Parents should try to restrict foods with high amounts of sugar and starches because they are the biggest contributors to tooth decay.  Replacing these snacks with healthier snacks such as fruit and vegetables will help them avoid tooth decay and form good eating habits.  Children should also be encouraged to drink more water because juice and milk can lead to tooth decay if consumed in large amounts.  When your children do eat or drink sugary substances, make sure that they brush their teeth immediately afterwards to decrease their chances of getting cavities or tooth decay.

Oral health care for children should begin as soon as the first tooth appears and parents should start to instill good dental health practices in their children by the age of 2.  Dr. David Wilhite starts seeing children as young as 3 years old for checkups and cleanings to ensure that their teeth are free of decay and developing properly.  By teaching your child good dental health practices and taking them to the dentist for regular checkups, you can set them on a path of good oral health which will also benefit their overall health.