Tips for Young Children and Dental Health

As a parent, you know your child’s oral health is important. However, many parents are unsure of the best ways to promote good dental health, especially with younger children. Here are some tips to help your young child prevent cavities and develop good dental health habits.

Make brushing fun

Many of us remember disliking brushing our teeth as a child, most likely because we were made to think of it as a chore. To help your child feel more comfortable with brushing their teeth, try making it fun. You can try playing your child’s favorite music while they brush their teeth, or play “Monkey See, Monkey Do” while you and your child brush together. Something as seemingly minor as letting your child pick their own toothbrush in the store can help them to feel a sense of ownership over the process.

Brush with proper technique

A lot of people brush their teeth with heavy pressure. Not only can this damage your gums, but it can also make children resist when it’s time to brush. The American Dental Association recommends we brush our teeth with a soft-bristled brush, and place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth, gently moving it back and forth in short strokes.

It’s recommended that teeth are brushed for two minutes, but young children may not be able to brush that long. Focus on proper technique and reaching all your child’s teeth.

Review your child’s eating habits

A diet that’s low in sugar is essential for good oral hygiene in children. Look for ways to reduce your child’s sugar consumption. For example, instead of fruit juice, try water with citrus fruit, or limit candy as treats for very special occasions. Use this as an opportunity to teach your kid about the health of their teeth. You may be surprised at your child’s willingness to take steps to improve their own oral health.

Choose the right dentist for your child

As adults, we’re used to visiting the dentist. Many of us don’t mind which one we choose. However, pediatric dentistry comes with its own host of considerations, including temperament. This is particularly true if your child is afraid of the dentist.

Look for a dentist who has experience treating children. The ideal dentist for your child will be friendly, patient, and helps to educate them. Another sign of a good pediatric dentist is a child-friendly waiting room and environment. Meet your prospective dentist beforehand and see how they interact with your child.

Model good dental hygiene

Your child will feel much more comfortable with oral hygiene if they see how you maintain your own. Make sure your child sees you brush and floss regularly, reduce sugar in your diet, and maintain your own dentist appointments. Even if you have anxiety over dentist visits yourself, it’s important to stay positive and not let your own fears transfer to your child. Stay positive and encouraging, and your child will learn that good dental hygiene can be fun.