We explain why it is critical to instil good oral hygiene habits early in childhood and reinforce them throughout childhood.
Oral Hygiene for Infants (up to age 2)
Excellent oral hygiene starts before your baby's teeth break through the gumline – healthy teeth grow from healthy gums. Your child's first teeth (usually the lower front teeth) will appear around the age of six months.
Here’s how you should care for a baby’s teeth and gums:
- After feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a soft washcloth to remove bacteria, which cause tooth decay.
- Once teeth begin to arrive, brush twice daily with a grain-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Book your baby’s first dental appointment before their first birthday or after his or her first baby tooth has come in - whichever arrives first.
- Limit soother use to nap time or bedtime starting at one or two years old.
Oral Hygiene for Children (aged 3 to 9)
As your child grows, a lot happens, and their oral hygiene plan must keep up. Baby (primary) teeth should all be in by the age of three and will begin to fall out around the age of six when their adult (permanent) teeth begin to grow in. By the age of 13, the majority of permanent teeth have arrived.
Here are some age-appropriate oral care lessons for children aged three and up:
- Brush and floss your teeth together. Kids enjoy imitating adults, so use this to your advantage by having them watch you brush and floss while explaining the process. Begin by flossing once a day when your teeth come into contact (around 6 years of age).
- Choose a special brush and toothpaste. Make brushing fun by choosing a brightly coloured, soft-bristled toothbrush and flavoured toothpaste your child loves (use a pea-sized amount).
- Teach the importance of diet for healthy teeth. For excellent oral hygiene, calcium-rich foods like green vegetables, cheese, and yogurt are key.
- Limit sugary foods, fruit juices, and soda, which get stuck in the crevices of kids’ teeth and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Oral Hygiene for Pre-Teens (aged 10 to 12)
As kids enter their pre-teen years and grow more independent and active, their dental health needs become more similar to adults. At this age:
- Discourage tobacco use. Not only are smoking and tobacco terrible for your lungs, but tobacco can also lead to many diseases, such as gum disease and oral cancers.
- Remind your pre-teen to drink water, and keep your fridge full of healthy snacks.
- Remind them how great a healthy, white smile looks. Appeal to appearance-conscious pre-teens by reminding them that maintaining excellent oral health will keep their teeth strong and their smile white.
- Continue regular dental visits.