As a parent or primary caregiver, it is your responsibility to teach your children to take good care of themselves.
One of the most important things you can do for them is to practice excellent oral hygiene.
Here are some common skills that are important for kids to learn in order to prevent cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and other problems.
Skill #1: Brushing
Children should use a toothbrush with soft bristles in a size that easily fits in their mouths and is easy to handle. After age two, kids should use a fluoridated toothpaste; fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant to decay. Both the toothbrush and toothpaste you choose should carry the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, but allowing your child to select a favorite color toothbrush or flavor of toothpaste may make the task easier and more fun.
Teach your children to brush all the surfaces of their teeth and to brush for at least two minutes to do a thorough job.
Skill #2: Flossing
Flossing removes food particles that could cause cavities and bad breath. Young children will need help flossing until they develop the dexterity to do it themselves. As soon as a child has two teeth beside each other, it’s time to start flossing.
It may be difficult for kids with braces to floss, but taking care of their teeth becomes even more important during this time. Kids can use special tools designed to make it easier to thread the floss under their braces.
Skill #3: Drinking water
Drinking water is not necessarily a “skill,” but rather a good habit for kids to get into to improve their oral health. In addition to helping children stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water helps wash away bacteria that cause cavities.
Encourage your child to drink water instead of sugary juices or sodas. If your water supply is fluoridated, tap water is the best choice.