Most babies’ teeth will start growing when they are between six and 12 months old. As soon as that happens, it is vital for parents to instil good oral hygiene in their child. For one, they would need to get used to the idea of brushing their teeth regularly as both formula and breast milk can cause teeth decay due to the sugars in them.
The right approach to oral hygiene is critical to assist in mouth development. The first few baby teeth that come out will play an integral role in helping them digest their food as well as developing their speech skills before their full set of teeth comes in.
Make it a routine
Children’s minds are like sponges; they can soak up loads of knowledge without getting overwhelmed. Since babies and toddlers are visual and experiential learners, parents should include proper oral hygiene habits into their daily bathroom routine and ensure that they follow the schedule well.
One way to take things a step further is by making tooth brushing fun for their child. Children’s toothbrushes are often colourful with fun characters and soft bristles that are appropriate for their teeth and gums. Parents can allow their children to choose their own toothbrushes so that they feel more in control and encouraged to brush their teeth. Incorporating games and creating a reward system would also help make it more fun for them to establish good oral hygiene.
Advocate healthy eating
Additionally, parents should encourage healthy eating habits by limiting sweets around the house and being conscious of the sugar content in packaged foods early on. Many citrus-rich foods erode the tooth enamel so it’s best to avoid that as well. Meanwhile, opting for more calcium-rich foods will help protect their enamel.
Tooth decay has impacted more and more children over the years. In 2019, statistics from Public Health England (PHE) revealed that around one out of four (23%) five-year-olds in the country had dental decay that year.¹
Parents have the duty of making sure that their children understand the importance of oral hygiene. Oral hygiene is not only about brushing and flossing teeth, it’s about what goes into the mouth. For example, did you know that just drinking water can fight against acid erosion, improve saliva production and naturally clean the teeth of debris? Additionally, children also need to understand the negative impact sugars have on their teeth.
Take time to connect
Tooth brushing can become a special bonding moment shared between family members. It is the best way to get the morning started and day ending. By doing it together, children will understand that everyone does it.
Showing them television programmes or reading stories about dental hygiene is a good way for a child to understand why it’s normal to look after their teeth. Videos of Elmo or Crawford the Cat brushing their teeth would remind children to brush theirs too.
Don’t skip on appointments
Dentophobia is a term referring to an immense fear of visiting the dentist for oral care. This is a common fear among people of all ages which, if dealt with earlier, can be avoided altogether.
Parents should make it a priority for their child’s dental appointments to be positive experiences to dispel any fear. Dental appointments should be made every six months.
Getting your child’s oral hygiene in order from young will help protect their teeth and health, saving a great deal of pain and money in the future.