As any parent knows, getting kids to consistently brush, floss, and have good oral hygiene habits can be challenging. However pediatric dentists emphasize that pediatric dental care and developing these habits early on play a huge role in lifelong dental health and happiness.
Following pediatric dental best practices and recommendations ensures healthy smiles start early. There are practical, proven tips families can follow to help lay the foundation for healthy smiles.
1. Make Brushing Fun for Kids
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Come up with creative ways to make toothbrushing entertaining for kids. Allow them to pick out brushes with their favorite characters on them or in their favorite colors. Give them a sticker chart and let them put a sticker on each time they brush.
Use a sand timer or play a fun two-minute song so they brush for the full recommended time. Making it fun will make it more likely for them to develop good lifelong habits.
2. Get Kids Comfortable With the Dentist Early On
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children have their first dentist visit by age 1. Bringing them to the dentist early on and making sure they have a positive first experience will help prevent fear of the dentist as they get older. Kids who see the dentist as a safe, regular part of health maintenance are more likely to keep up good habits.
3. Limit Sugar for Better Dental Health
Reducing kids’ intake of sugary snacks and drinks can significantly reduce their risk of developing cavities. Offer nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, cheese, and yogurt instead. If they are going to have sweets, encourage them to brush afterward. Monitoring their sugar consumption will help preserve their dental health.
4. Ensure Kids Get Enough Fluoride
Fluoride strengthens enamel and protects teeth, which is why over 70% of Americans live in areas with fluoridated water. If your water supply lacks fluoride, ask your pediatric dentist about fluoride drops or chewable tablets to supplement your child’s intake. Fluoride is a safe, effective way to reduce cavities.
5. Teach Proper Brushing Technique
Once kids get their first teeth, guide them in proper brushing techniques. Young kids should use just a smear of toothpaste and brush softly. Around age 8, they can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and brush properly on their own. Reinforcing good technique ensures they clean plaque off effectively.
6. Set a Good Oral Hygiene Example
Make brushing, flossing, and regular dentist visits a family activity. Brush and floss together, talk about why oral health matters, and make dental appointments part of your routine health care. Kids are much more likely to develop good habits themselves if they see them practiced consistently at home.
7. Visit the Dentist Regularly
Pediatric dentistry guidelines advise dental checkups every 6 months to spot problems early, while treatment is simpler. Getting in the habit of regular preventative care rather than just going when they have pain sets your child up for better lifelong oral health. Catching issues early can also save time, money, and discomfort down the road.
By making oral health a priority, parents set their kids up for a lifetime of happy, healthy smiles. Pediatric dentists emphasize that habits established early on play a huge role in long-term dental and overall health outcomes. Following their best practice recommendations around brushing routines, dietary choices, fluoride intake, and regular dental visits helps ensure your child’s smile stays sparkling now and for years to come.