According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cavities are the most common chronic disease of childhood in Australia. The problem is not only limited to children, but adults also suffer from tooth decay.

Good dental hygiene is crucial for overall health, and it’s never too early to start developing healthy habits. Proper dental hygiene is essential for children, as it sets the foundation for healthy teeth and gums for the rest of their lives. This article will discuss five tips for children’s dental hygiene.

Why is Children’s Dental Hygiene important?

Children’s dental hygiene is important for several reasons:

  • Good dental hygiene practices, such as regular brushing and flossing, can help prevent cavities from developing. 
  • Good dental hygiene practices can help promote good oral health, which can positively impact a child’s overall health and well-being. 
  • Good dental hygiene practices help children develop good habits that they can carry into adulthood. These habits can help them maintain good oral health throughout their lives.
  • Good oral health can boost a child’s self-esteem by giving them a bright, healthy smile. Children who feel good about their smiles are more likely to feel confident in social situations.
  • Good dental hygiene practices can help prevent bad breath, which can be embarrassing and cause social discomfort.

5 Tips To Follow For Children’s Dental Hygiene

1). Start Early

The first step in promoting good dental hygiene for children is to start early. Even before their first tooth emerges, you can start practising good oral hygiene habits with your child. Wipe their gums with a soft cloth or gauze after feedings to remove bacteria and help prevent the buildup of plaque. 

As soon as their first tooth appears, it’s time to start brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to supervise brushing until your child is old enough to do it on their own.

2). Practise Proper Brushing Technique

Proper brushing technique is essential for effective dental hygiene. Teach your child to brush in a circular motion, using gentle pressure to clean all surfaces of the teeth and gums.

Ensure they brush for at least two minutes, and encourage them to spit out the toothpaste before swallowing it. It’s also important to replace toothbrushes every three to four months or when the bristles become frayed.

3). Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

Diet plays a crucial role in dental health. Sugary and acidic foods and drinks can contribute to tooth decay and erosion. Encourage your child to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. 

Limit sugary snacks and drinks, and opt for water or milk instead. If your child does indulge in sugary treats, make sure they brush their teeth afterwards.

4). Make Dental Visits a Priority

Regular dental visits are an essential part of maintaining good dental hygiene. Make sure to schedule your child’s first dental appointment by their first birthday or when their first tooth emerges, whichever comes first. 

After that, schedule regular checkups every six months to ensure their teeth and gums are healthy and catch any potential issues early. Regular dental visits can also help your child become more comfortable with the dentist and reduce their anxiety.

5). Lead by Example

Children often learn by example, and dental hygiene is no exception. Show your child that you value good dental hygiene by practising it yourself. Brush and floss your teeth before them, and let them see you making healthy food choices. Encourage the whole family to practise good dental hygiene together, making it a fun and positive experience.

For Babies 

  • Even before babies have teeth, it is essential to clean their gums to prevent bacteria from accumulating. Use a clean, damp cloth or piece of gauze to gently wipe their gums twice a day (once during morning feeding and before bed).
  • As soon as a baby’s first tooth appears, parents should brush it twice daily with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and plain water. 
  • It is recommended that children see a dentist by their first birthday. This visit can help detect any early signs of dental problems and provide guidance on good dental hygiene practices.
  • Fluoride is a mineral that can help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Talk to your dentist or paediatrician about whether fluoride varnish is appropriate for your child and, if so, when to start using it. 

For Children 

  • Children should brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Teach your child to brush all surfaces of their teeth, including the fronts, backs, and chewing surfaces, and to brush for at least two minutes each time.
  • Until children have good brushing skills, parents or caregivers need to help them brush their teeth. It can involve guiding their hand, ensuring they are using the right amount of toothpaste, and monitoring the quality of brushing.
  • Even after children have developed good brushing skills, parents must continue to supervise their brushing and ensure they are using the right amount of toothpaste and spitting it out rather than swallowing it.
  • Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. They can help prevent cavities by keeping food and bacteria out of the grooves and crevices in these teeth. 
  • Encourage your child to drink tap water, especially during meals and snacks. If your tap water does not contain fluoride, talk to your dentist or paediatrician about whether fluoride supplements are appropriate.

Good dental hygiene is essential for children’s overall health, and there are several steps you can take to promote it. Start early, practise proper brushing techniques, encourage healthy eating habits, prioritise dental visits, and lead by example. 

By following these tips, you can help your child develop healthy habits that will set them up for a lifetime of good dental health. So, start today and prioritise dental hygiene in your child’s life.