Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” We have found when it comes to your oral health, it actually is the truth! Starting good habits for your children’s oral health as they become old enough to do it on their own is going to set them up for successful oral care through their adulthood and give them a higher quality of life. Who doesn’t want that for their kids?
Newborn To 2 Years
The first year of your child’s life flies by, so here’s a quick list to make sure they have a solid foundation in their early oral health
- For newborns- using a soft cloth to wipe down their gums will get them used to you cleaning their mouth.
- Babies tend to start getting their teeth around 6 months- give them a soft toothbrush to teeth on so they get used to the feel of it and it doesn’t seem strange when you start brushing for them.
- Avoid giving babies bottles to sleep with at night with milk or anything other than water in it.
- Encourage drinking from a cup around age 1 to keep the formation of their jaw on the right path.
Toddler to Big Kid (2-6 Years)
Your kid’s second set of baby molars are typically grown in by 3 years old so you definitely want to have their first dental visit done by then (usually by age 2). This is important because if there are any red flags as their baby teeth are coming in we can have a preventative plan in place to encourage correct tooth growth placement for their adult teeth. Check out these tips:
- Start discouraging pacifier use and thumb sucking by age 3- the shape of their mouth and teeth can be severely affected.
- Bringing your children in for your routine dental cleaning can help them get used to and even look forward to the dentist.
- Let your kiddo try brushing their teeth by themselves after you have done the first initial brushing. Doing this can help them really enjoy brushing and even flossing!
- Using fluoride free toothpaste until they learn to not swallow it is recommended- we encourage Carifree CTX 3 gel.
Big Kid (6-12 Years)
This is a fantastic age to have your child’s dentist check out their bite, jaw, and position of their teeth to determine if an orthodontist evaluation would benefit them. At this age it is vital to practice frequent dental visits to insure their oral health is on the right track and their teeth and gums remain healthy. Here are some keys to successful oral health:
- The premolars start to grow in around age 10 followed by the canines- this is perfect time to get their teeth checked to see if sealants are necessary.
- Phase 1 of braces is a correction in alignment while your kid is growing. It’s a great way to shorten the time spent in braces later in life.
- If braces are in your kid’s future, it’s critical to have a strong routine of keeping them clean. Getting them a brace care kit that they can take to school that is organized will help them feel more independent and encourage them to take initiative in their own oral health. It’s a win-win!
Teenager (12-17 years)
The last of their baby teeth should have already come out by age 12 and their adult teeth have grown in. These last few years of them being at home are extremely crucial to starting healthy oral habits and keeping their adult teeth in pristine condition- their quality of life depends on it. You want to make sure that they have all the knowledge and resources they need to be successful in their oral hygiene:
- As their final molars are in by age 12, it’s time for a sealant check again, many dentists just make sure that the original ones put it are still holding up and protecting their teeth properly.
- You have probably heard a couple horror stories about wisdom teeth… your kid’s experience doesn’t need to be like that! Schedule an appointment around age 15 so that their dentist can have their wisdom teeth evaluated and can plan the surgery ahead of time before they start causing pain.
- Encouraging a healthy diet and lifestyle plays a big role in your kid’s oral health. Teaching them to default to mostly drinking water will help keep the cavities away too.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle, staying on top of routine dental appointments, and brushing/flossing twice a day are the 3 most important keys to having a healthy mouth. The more time you spend teaching good oral care- the less time they will spend in the dentist office, overall, later in their adult life. We all want what’s best for our kiddos and teaching them that oral care should be 2nd nature to them is one the best habits you can pass down to them.