Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Kids

Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Kids
Little girl in a dentist chair undergoing dental checkup

Oral hygiene for small children can be a bit tricky, considering the fact that most children do not have the inclination to regularly brush their teeth. This is made worse by the fact that many children are also fond of eating sweets.

Fortunately, there are solutions offered by modern dentistry which can be divided into three main categories, namely: preventive, restorative, and curative measures.

Oral health hygiene

If you are a parent, you have the primary responsibility of ensuring the oral health of your children. You are the one who should inculcate the habit of correct brushing and eating the right food. Dentists only have the supporting role when it comes to the oral health of your children.

As a parent, you should carefully supervise the hygiene and diet of your children. Small kids are relatively easier to persuade than older ones. It is all about forming habits, and these start from mimicking parents.

For instance, parents should demonstrate to their children the habit of brushing teeth, particularly in the morning and in the evening before bed.

Different age groups

Various age groups of children have different recommended oral health routines that should be followed by the parents.

Here are 10 tips for handling 10 dental care essentials that you can follow at various developmental stages of your child. These are far from being in-depth, but hopefully, you will find some useful ideas here.

For infants age 4 to 24 months

Oral hygiene should start even before the eruption of milk teeth. The tongue of a baby should be regularly brushed to remove the milk residues and bacteria.

The milk residues on the tongue and gums should not be allowed to accumulate and hardened. Otherwise, bacteria will flourish and might become the cause of gum infection, sore throat, or even pneumonia.

1. Damp washcloths

For newborn infants, you can use damp washcloths to remove the excess milk after every feeding. For babies more than six months old, brush the tongue and gums using a soft silicon tongue brush for babies. Usually, this is designed to be worn on your index finger.

2. Soft bristle brushes

Soft silicone baby oral brushes are also useful once the milk teeth appear. You need to brush the teeth for at least two minutes per session, twice a day. You may use baby toothpastes, which are non-fluoridated.

Regularly visit a paediatrician every quarter during the first year of your baby. The visits could be reduced to twice a year until two years of age. You may also need to visit a paediatric dentist once the milk teeth sprout.

For toddlers age 2 to 4 years

In this stage of your child’s development, he is old enough to form habits. You should guide your child to develop good oral hygiene habits. It might be a struggle at first as he may resist, but always be patient and gentle but firm.

3. Themed toothbrushes and toothpastes

One strategy to encourage your child to regularly brush teeth is to use cartoon- or superhero-themed toothbrushes and toothpastes to make the habit more fun. You may also buy flavoured toothpastes and allow your child to choose his/her favourite themes.

4. Tooth brushing follow-throughs

You may allow your child to brush on his own, but you should also do some follow-throughs to make it more thorough. Make sure to demonstrate the proper way of brushing.

It would be helpful to accompany your child while brushing. You can do it together every day to easily show him the correct way to brush teeth.

5. Good dietary habits

Aside from the habit of brushing teeth, you should also inculcate the habit of eating healthful food and avoiding the sugary ones. Children this age need a good amount of calcium, fibre and vitamins. Milk, fish and vegetables should also be included in the diet.

6. First dental check-up

It is during this stage that you may take your child to a paediatric dentist for regular check-ups. You could avail of general dentistry services such as periodic cleaning and extraction of decayed teeth, if there are any.

For children age 5 to 7 years old

The pre-school and elementary school years begin during this period of development. It is the stage wherein your child should have already established good oral hygiene habits and dietary discipline.

7. Flossing and sweets moderation

You may already use fluoridated toothpastes and teach your child how to floss.

Although sweets should be avoided at home, the temptation could be irresistible at school or during camping and tours. Other children at school might influence your child to eat sweets.

Occasional eating of sugary food like ice cream and cake cannot be totally avoided during children’s parties and during Halloween or Christmas season.

8. Healthful alternatives

However, you can instill discipline in your child by teaching him the virtue of moderation. Let your child know that moderate amounts of sugary food and drink are all right as long as proper dental habits continue to be followed.

You may also prepare healthy snacks for him to bring to school, or organize children’s parties that include healthy food.

For school children age 8 to 13 years

During this period, most of your child’s teeth are still milk teeth, but towards the age of 13 years old, the milk teeth will be gradually replaced by permanent teeth.

9. Dental appointments

It is during this period that you will begin needing to take your child more regularly to the dentist for regular check-ups to determine if the teeth are continuing to develop as they should be. Periodic cleaning is also important to prevent any problems with cavities and tooth decay.

10. Dental extraction and braces

Finally, in some cases, it might be necessary to have a tooth extracted, or to have the teeth examined by the dentist and a recommended orthodontist to see whether being fitted with braces is required to correct the growth of the permanent teeth.

Father and son flossing side by side

 

Here at 247 Dental, you can find round-the-clock dental services, including those for emergency cases. Book an appointment with one of our dentists today to maintain great oral health for your whole family.

Dr. Michael Letham is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual's requirements, Mike's focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.