10 Essential Tips for a Healthy Start to Children’s Oral Health

Oral health for kids.

Time to start those daily routines.

We all have daily habits. Perhaps we wake up before the crack of dawn, get in a workout, and then take a nice shower, all before the little ones wake up. Or maybe, we roll out of bed on the third alarm and rush through the house to get everyone ready. No matter the routine, it was created over time. The more you do the same thing daily, the more likely it is that it will become a habit.

Through our daily routines, our children create their own lifelong habits. This includes their oral hygiene! This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to start implementing good dental habits early. You’re doing more than just keeping their smiles healthy—you’re setting a foundation for their oral hygiene that will last a lifetime!

It can sound a little overwhelming, but don’t worry! Here are 10 tips to help your children get a good start on their oral health.

1. Understanding the Right Age to Start

It’s never too early to start caring for your child’s teeth. Even when they are still little gummy milk monsters, there are things you can do to take care of their future smile. After each feeding, take a clean damp cloth or gauze and wipe off their gums. This ensures no bacteria is hiding. 

When that first tooth makes it through the gums, it’s time to introduce a toothbrush to the routine. You can use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste and shine that tooth up! Try for two times a day. Not every day is going to be perfect, and that’s okay. You’re trying to get them used to the routine, teach them that it’s okay.  

2. The Basics of Brushing

When brushing anyone’s teeth, the goal is to brush them for two minutes, twice a day. Yes, this can get a little difficult when it comes to little ones. After all, they’re so squirmy and rather opinionated. But just do the best you can. Remember, you’re creating good habits, and that takes time. 

3. The Role of Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that does wonders for preventing cavities. It’s in the majority of our drinking water to give us just that extra boost when it comes to our oral health. It’s also in most toothpastes. At your child’s dental appointment, it’s common for the dentist to apply a fluoride varnish to the surface of the teeth. 

Fluoride isn’t anything to be afraid of, as ingesting too much is very rare. The general rule is to use a small drop around the size of a grain of rice on your child’s toothbrush until they reach the age of three. 

4. Flossing Fundamentals

At least once a day, it is important to floss your little one’s teeth. You can start this routine as soon as they have two teeth next to each other. As with brushing, this can take time to get them used to the new sensations. That’s okay! Just keep on reassuring them and trying every day. 

5. Eating Healthy for Healthy Teeth

What we eat directly affects our bodies. Sure, our taste buds might crave a giant bowl of ice cream for every meal, but we know that’s not the healthiest choice. Try to feed your child a variety of foods that encourage oral health. Raw, crunchy vegetables help promote saliva production, whisking away hidden bacteria between toothbrushing sessions. Fiber and calcium-rich foods help reinforce the enamel, fighting off cavities. With just a little creativity, you can find all sorts of tooth-happy meals for your family to enjoy!

6. The importance of regular dental checkups.

You might be thinking, why bother taking my little one to the dentist two times a year? The appointment only takes a few minutes, and all they do is brush their teeth—nope! Those regular dental cleanings are worth much more than just a simple toothbrushing session. During these visits, the dentist will be watching for any signs that something could be going wrong. This way, you can solve the problem before it becomes a big issue. Your child’s dentist will also apply a thin varnish of fluoride to the surface of teeth to prevent cavities. 

But there is one other benefit of keeping these appointments that you may not realize: it helps prevent dental anxiety. Your child will get used to going to these appointments, and form a trust-filled relationship with their dentist. Plus, the chances are much less that they will need any invasive procedures!

7. Dealing With Dental Emergencies

Accidents happen. Though we might do everything in our power to prevent emergencies of any kind from occurring, life has a way of throwing curveballs. Because of this, it’s best to be prepared! The first tip is always to stay calm, stop any bleeding, and then give us a call. We will be able to help you from there! Breathe—you’ve got this.

8. Sealants and Their Benefits

Dental sealants are a great tool that pediatric dentists have up their sleeves! Your child’s back teeth have a lot of nooks and crannies that bacteria love to hide in, and unfortunately, the position of these teeth at the back of your child’s mouth makes them more challenging to brush clean. That’s where sealants come in. Sealants are thin coatings that are applied to the tops of the molars, sealing off access to bacteria where it matters most.

9. Breaking Bad Habits

Though we try to make good habits for our children, bad ones tend to sneak in around the corners. That’s life! Do the best you can to break those bad habits, such as teeth grinding, pacifier use, and thumb sucking. Tooth grinding can permanently alter those molars, and create headaches, tooth pain, and future dental work. Thumb sucking and extended pacifier usage can affect their jaw formation, creating the need for extensive orthodontic work in the future. 

10. Education and Engagement

There’s one thing for certain about us humans—we are constantly learning! Never be afraid to speak up and ask your child’s dentist any questions you may have. Trust us, we here at Hite Family Dentistry have likely seen and heard it all. You might be surprised what you don’t know! 

Oral health success is coming your way!

Though it can sometimes feel like a lot, setting your children up for success boils down to creating good habits. Every day builds onto the last! If you keep it up, one day you can be confident that your child will be able to care for their teeth!

Take an active role in your child’s oral health. It’s a journey that starts from an early age, but your persistence will pay off. Remember that you’re not alone in this journey. We are here with you every step of the way. If you are ready to make an appointment, you can do so in just a few clicks. We look forward to helping your child’s smile be the best it can be!