National Dental Care Awareness Month

 
We are spotlighting the importance of oral hygiene in honor of National Dental Care Awareness month. Like many of the healthy habits we learn, oral hygiene starts at home and the earlier the better. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that six months after the first tooth erupts or by age one is when a child should visit the dentist. During your child’s visit, the dentist can provide feedback on bottle tooth decay, pacifier, and finger-sucking habits, as well as age appropriate mouth cleaning. 
 

How can we help our children develop healthy oral care habits? There are actually many ways to not only help them create and maintain healthy habits at home but prepare them for their first visit to the dentist.

 

Search for age appropriate TV shows to introduce the importance of brushing and how it’s done. Some of my son’s favorites when he was younger were Mother Goose Club “Brush Your Teeth” and Blippi “Tooth brushing Song”. There are also many books for little ones such as “Brush, Brush, Brush!” by Alicia Padron and “Dentists and What They Do” by Liesbet Slegers. These educational resources are a great way for a young child to learn the importance of oral hygiene in an entertaining way. 

Lead by example and demonstrate how you brush your teeth. It’s most likely that your little one already imitates what you do. Monkey see Monkey do. Show them step by step so they become familiar with both the process and all the parts such as the toothbrush and toothpaste. You can even ask them to help you brush your teeth…just like a dentist! 

 

Introduce them to their own toothbrush. I personally used a silicone training toothbrush around the time my son started teething which was 6 months. Not only did it help clean his gums but it soothed him which worked as a great teething hack. Once the teeth erupted I introduced a soft training toothbrush. The key to creating a routine is consistency. Perhaps you can start off with a sticker chart. Eventually, your little one will know that they have to brush their teeth in the morning and at night and actually look forward to it because of their sticker chart.
 
Remember to treat toothpaste like medicine by keeping it out of your child’s hands and use the right amount of toothpaste. For the 1st tooth- apply just a smear onto the toothbrush. For ages 3-5- apply half a pea-size onto the toothbrush. Use a timer on your phone to time 2 minutes exactly but be patient if your little one cannot keep up for that long…the more they brush their teeth the better they will get.
 
 
 
Oral hygiene is essential! By teaching our children to create and maintain a healthy habit early on they are less likely to encounter dental issues as adults. When it comes time to visit the dentist, whether it’s their first check-up or not, keep in mind that they may feel uneasy about having their teeth checked and cleaned. It happens to adults too! Prepare them by communicating about their upcoming appointment and comfort them during their check-up. A little reassurance goes a long way especially if it’s coming from us. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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