Oral Hygiene Tips for Kids

Tips to improve oral health of kids
10 Jan 2019

Oral hygiene for kids begins during pregnancy. This might seem surprising considering newborns don’t have teeth. However, oral care is not just about teeth, but overall care of the mouth as well. Here are important oral hygiene tips to promote dental health for life.

  • Pregnancy: Even before your child is born, their primary teeth begin to form. You can help them develop healthy teeth by including calcium, phosphorous, and protein rich foods in your diet.
  • Infant Care: You can begin oral hygiene at birth using a washcloth or piece of gauze, dampened with warm water to gently wipe their gums after each feeding to remove bacteria and sugar.
  • First Tooth Care: Once your child’s first tooth appears, you can use a baby toothbrush with a tiny dot of fluoridated toothpaste to brush. You can then rinse with a warm damp cloth. This is also the time you should schedule their first dental appointment.
  • Teeth Brushing: At the age of 3, your child will be able to handle a toothbrush on their own. This is the perfect age to teach your child how to brush their teeth with their small brush and a small amount of toothpaste. You will want to follow up on their brushing to ensure proper cleaning is made up until your child is about 6 or 7 years old. Regular dental checkups and cleaning will also provide your child with tips to properly clean their teeth.
  • Proper Brushing Technique: Follow these steps to make sure your child is using the proper brushing technique:
  1. The toothbrush should be held at a 45 degree angle against the gums.
  2. Use short strokes and make sure they are reaching the fronts, backs, and tops of their teeth.
  3. Use gentle strokes, especially along the gum line to avoid irritation.
  4. Make sure they are reaching behind their top and bottom front teeth. This is especially important for the bottom, as this area tends to see more tartar buildup.
  5. Use the top bristles of the brush to reach behind front teeth.
  • Introduce Flossing: By the age of 4, you will want to introduce flossing to remove food between their teeth. This will help you prevent tooth decay. At age 6, your child will be more adept at brushing and will also be able to try flossing on their own.
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Your child will eventually begin to view brushing as a chore to avoid. To keep them interested from the start, let them choose their own kid-friendly toothbrush to make them feel more excited about brushing their teeth. Also, use child-friendly toothpaste, with flavours and colours they’ll enjoy.
  • Fluoride: Most cities have fluoridated water. However, if your home is on a septic system and using well water, it is advisable to have a fluoride test performed. Most areas offer this service for free. If you find your water is not fluoridated, you should include fluoride as part of your child’s professional cleaning regime by age 8. We advise all children receive fluoride treatments, but it is even more important if your water is not fluoridated.
  • Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Using a baby bottle at sleep time can promote tooth decay as there are sugars in all drinks other than water. As your child has the bottle in their mouth, the teeth are exposed to sugar, which includes both breast and formula milk. If offering a bottle at sleep time, only provide water.
  • Limit or Avoid Sugar: A healthy diet is an excellent way to help promote oral health. Sugars should be avoided as they create bacteria that leads to tooth decay. By limiting or removing sugar from a child’s diet, you will greatly reduce the chance of cavities. If you do include sugar in your child’s diet, follow these tips:
  1. Provide sweet treats only after mealtime when more saliva is produced to protect your child’s teeth from the bacteria caused by sugar.
  2. Have your child drink milk when they are enjoying sweets as it has a buffering effect between teeth and the damaging acids that bacteria produce.
  3. Avoid hard candy as it sticks to teeth and causes cavities.
  4. During holidays, when candy and sweets are at a maximum, limit sweets to a few times a day and store the rest away.
  5. Choose tap water as the drink you offer your child. It contains fluoride, which will help prevent tooth decay. Bottled water might not contain fluoride, so check the label. And remember, well water should be tested.
  • Cavity Prevention: In hand with fluoride applications, you can speak to us about dental sealants to help prevent cavities. The sealant helps avoid food from becoming stuck in the grooves found on the surface of teeth.
  • Encourage Healthy Dental Relationships: It is important for children to feel that dental appointments are nothing to fear. Anxious parents tend to pass down their dental anxiety to their children. Sharing story books about their favourite characters visiting the dentist is an excellent way to prepare them for their first dental appointment. Avoid telling your child there is nothing to be afraid of when visiting the dentist, or assuring them it won’t hurt, as this can make them suspicious. As long as they are given a positive, fear-free view of the dentist, they will approach their appointments without stress.
  • Avoid Dental Injuries: Studies have shown that the majority of dental related injuries in children under the age of 7 happen at home. Childproof your home and look for places that might pose a risk for falls, such as toys strewn on the floor, area rugs, and electrical cords. Pad sharp corners on furniture and avoid having hard furniture in play areas. Sharp corners, such as a raised fireplace hearth or exposed bottom steps, can also be padded. Never leave a child unattended in the bath and ensure you have non-skid rubber mats to prevent slipping. If you have a swing set, play set, or climbing equipment in the yard, make sure you have soft fall material to avoid injury. Also, swings are dangerous for small children who might lean on them and cause them to swing back into their face. For activities such as skating, rollerblading, and skateboarding, speak to us about having a sports guard made. This can help prevent serious injury to your child’s teeth and mouth.

These tips will greatly improve your child’s oral health and provide them with habits they will keep for life.

At Guelph Family Dentistry, we specialize in dentistry for kids. Give us a call to set up an appointment today at (888) 250-8819 or contact us here.

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Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi
Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi

Dr. Omar got his BDS degree in 2002 from the University of Baghdad. He has also completed a master degree in Prosthetic Dentistry from the University of Malaya, Malaysia in 2009. Dr. Omar got his DDS in 2013 in Canada after passing the National Dental Examination Board of Canada (NDEB) exams. Read More

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