Teaching your children healthy oral hygiene habits from a young age will ensure that they learn early on how important it is to look after their teeth, how to do it properly and show them that visiting the dentist is not something to be afraid of.

Adults who have phobias of the dentist might have had these develop following a bad experience at the dentist as a child, and might unwittingly pass on this fear to their own children, causing them to suffer from anxiety when thinking about visiting the dentist. Find out more about teaching your kids good oral hygiene habits in our post below.

What age should your children start brushing their teeth?

You should start brushing your children’s teeth from the moment they get them – it’s normally around 6 months.  Up until the age of 2, it is not advised to use any toothpaste. Just to habituate the process of brushing twice daily.

When your child is over 2 years old, all you need is a little smudge of toothpaste (to minimise the amount they will ingest) and a soft bristled brush. It might be tempting to give them their last bottle of the night and put them straight to bed, but the sugars present in milk will create acids that attack their teeth while they sleep.

From 2-7, there are low fluoride toothpastes for children to use. This means less will be ingested and less chance of any white spots in the developing adult teeth. Until a child can tie their own shoelaces (around the age of 7), parents will need to assist their kids with brushing their teeth. After age 7, a child should be using an adult concentration of toothpaste to protect the adult teeth that begin to erupt rapidly in the next few years.

Teaching your kids to brush

You should brush together for two minutes in the morning, and two minutes before bed, with you supervising to see that they are doing it properly and that they are spitting out the excess toothpaste when they are done instead of swallowing it. Try and limit how much water they rinse their mouth with afterwards as this will wash away the fluoride in the toothpaste which protects the enamel.

Hold their hands and guide them using their toothbrush until they know how to do it themselves – gentle circular motions that remove plaque without damaging their gentle gums. You can introduce flossing in the early teen years once the contacts between the erupting adult teeth have developed.

Cutting back on sweets and fizzy drinks

As an adult, you know how important it is to limit your intake of sugary drinks and foods, but as a child these treats are even more tempting. It is crucial that you teach them about the dangers of sugar to their teeth. There have been multiple news reports recently about toddlers having to have all their milk teeth pulled due to decay – a shocking task and one which could easily be avoided with proper oral care.

Heredity problems

Remember, some tooth and gum issues can be passed from parent to child, so if you know that you suffer from a higher propensity to cavities or have weaker enamel, make sure that you follow up on all recommended visits to the dentist with your child, so any potential issues can be spotted and treated early on.

You should also introduce your children to the dentist from about 1 or 2 years old, so that they are familiar with the sight and don’t see it as something to fear. This is normally done at the end or alongside a parent’s visit for a few minutes.

Published On: May 9th, 2017 / Categories: Dental Phobia, General /

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