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Teaching Children Proper Oral Hygiene

Posted Mar 10 2011 9:27pm

Parents need to educate their children on living a healthy lifestyle, and children learn by example. It’s the most effective way to teach your children to properly care for their teeth. Teaching young people proper oral hygiene is essential. Oral health provides children with a stepping stone to overall health. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that 28 percent of children from the ages of 2 to 5 have dental caries or tooth decay . By teaching your kids to take good care of their teeth and gums at an early age, you will help them avoid oral health issues, like cavities and periodontal disease, now and later in life.

I’m Dr. Randy LaFrom , a Cupertino and San Jose children’s dentist , and I believe that you should begin teaching your children healthy habits and proper oral care at very young age. You should start cleaning your infant’s teeth and gums before, and as soon as the teeth break through the skin. Use a soft washcloth or gauze with water, and gently rub the teeth and gums. Not only will this clean the mouth, but it will also provide a soothing sensation to the gums during teething. Make this a daily ritual, and your infant will become accustomed to it.

When your infant turns into a toddler, have him or her model your behavior. Make teeth brushing fun.  You can sing silly songs or make up games about teeth brushing.  You should brush your toddler’s teeth first, and then allow them to do it themselves as you brush your own teeth. Your child should brush their teeth as long as it would take to sing the alphabet. Toddlers love to imitate their parents. You should also begin flossing your child’s teeth to prevent food and plaque from lodging between teeth. Try to make sure your child doesn’t swallow the toothpaste, especially if it has fluoride in it. Small amounts won’t hurt, but new research shows that for younger kids, it’s best to not have them be rinsing or eating fluoride daily!

When your children turn three, allow them to begin brushing their own teeth with supervision. Teach them to brush in a gentle circular motion, then rinse thoroughly. Your children will still need supervision while brushing until they are 6 or 7 years old. Continue to make tooth brushing time quality together time.

To help your growing children improve their oral hygiene skills, purchase a plaque-detecting rinse. Children respond to visual guides. The rinse contains a dye that sticks to plaque. When your children see the dye on their teeth, they will know they didn’t do a thorough job, and they can try again.

The ADA recommends that children should have their first dental appointment around their first birthday and continue to attend dental checkups and cleanings every six months.  If your child is turning one or it is time for their six month check up and cleaning, call my San Jose children’s dentist office at (408)996-8595. We make dental care fun.


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