Start your child off with the habit of good dental hygiene. Set a good example for all your children by taking care of your own teeth. Brush at least twice daily and be sure to floss. Consult your dentist or dental hygienist for the proper techniques.
Begin brushing their teeth as early as possible. As soon as they have teeth get them in the habit by brushing their teeth daily. Consult your dentist or pediatrician on when to start using toothpaste. Special toothpastes are now available for use by young children. Use only the amount directed, usually a small pea size amount. Until they are ready for toothpaste use a wet toothbrush to gently brush their teeth.
Brushing teeth sounds simple but getting a child to properly brush teeth can be very difficult. The best way to get your child to take care of their teeth is to make it a positive experience and somehow motivate them to want to brush. Ideally you want your child to brush after every meal. This is not always possible so make sure your child brushes their teeth every morning and night. For younger children we suggest using a chart to keep track of when they brush. Use stickers and mark each time they brush. Make it a part of their morning routine, when they are ready to get dressed they should brush just before taking off pajamas. Make it part of the nighttime routine by having them brush before putting on pajamas. You can set a good example by brushing your teeth at least twice a day. It is also recommended that children (and adults) floss.
The proper way to brush teeth is to use circular strokes and brushes all surfaces of teeth. Your child (and you) should use small circular strokes. Brush for at least two to three minutes. Many children and adults do not brush long enough. Use a timer or play a song or two on a cd player or tape recorder. The song(s) should play for 3 minutes. You can also find electric toothbrushes that have built in timers. Younger children will need assistance and supervision in properly brushing their teeth.
Use a small amount of toothpaste. Experiment with different brands and flavors to find one your child likes. Adults and teens will need to floss to stimulate gums and remove stuck particles. Consult your dentist for proper technique. Younger children should also have their teeth flossed but will probably need an adult to do it for them. Pre-threaded disposable floss holders will make your job easier. Flossing another's teeth can be difficult; try sitting and placing your child's head in your lap. Consult your child's dentist for tips and proper technique.
Your child should visit the dentist on a regular basis beginning at the age of 2-3. At this time the dentist will check to see that the teeth have grown in properly. At this first visit they should also be taught how to properly brush their teeth. At each checkup your dentist will check for cavities and other dental problems. Have the dentist show you and your child how to brush and floss. Your child should receive a cleaning and exam on at least a yearly basis, more often if your dentist recommends. Fluoride treatments are often given after a cleaning. Consult your dentist about sealers for permanent teeth.
Many parents will choose a pediatric dentist to care for their child's teeth. A pediatric dentist is a dentist that deals solely with pediatric patients. They often have more child friendly rooms and for some children this may be a better choice. Choose your dentist as you chose your child's regular doctor. Select the dentist you trust and feel comfortable with. Make sure that they relate to your child well and can set him or her at ease.
By age seven have your child seen by an orthodontist. They will evaluate your child's teeth, jaw growth and more. An orthodontist can detect problems early. Early intervention can mean easier treatment and prevent more complicated treatment later on.
If you do not have dental insurance through work consider one of the dental plans like those at Affordable Dental Care. A dental care plan will save you money on dental bills. They are designed for both individuals, families and groups. You choose your dentist and save 10-60% on normal fees.
It is important that brushing teeth is a positive part of your child's daily routine. If necessary use a system of stickers or rewards. Brush at least twice a day and visit the dentist regularly. Try to keep any anxiety you may have for visits to the dentist under control. If possible use a pediatric dentist for young children. Caring for teeth properly will help to build strong healthy teeth.