Parenthood can be hectic, and it can be hard enough keeping track of your own dental health, let alone your children’s. However, teaching dental hygiene to preschoolers and older children is important, as it lays the foundation for a healthy mouth and teeth for life—and children who don’t brush and floss regularly can develop painful and costly health problems. We’ve compiled a few tips for patients who are busy parents to keep their children’s teeth healthy, and encourage good hygiene for kids year-round.

Pediatric Dentists Aren’t Just for Children

When you think about a children’s family dentistry, you might think about baby teeth and braces. However, it is recommended that even teens see a pediatric dentist until adulthood. The body undergoes rapid growth and change during the teenage years, and the mouth is no different. Changes to the jaw and face can cause impacted or crooked teeth, changing diets may affect enamel health, or some dental issues can even be influenced by hormonal changes in the body. Your teen’s pediatric dentist is specially trained to care for your child’s mouth through their formative years and into adulthood.

Tooth-Friendly Snacks for Kids

As children get older, it gets harder to monitor the kinds of snacks they choose for themselves, and those foods can affect the health of their teeth. Certain tooth friendly snacks, like cheese, are recommended by dentists for the positive qualities they have for growing mouths and teeth. Cheese itself is an excellent source of calcium, and promotes oral hygiene by stimulating the salivary glands and neutralizing harmful acids. Cheese, fruit, and nuts all make for healthy, tooth-friendly snacks for children throughout the day, and children who are exposed to healthy snacks instead of junk food are more likely to choose healthy snacks for themselves later in life.

How Dental Sealants Save Your Child’s Teeth

Dental sealants are a handy, effective tool in keeping your young child’s teeth healthy. Sealants are applied to your children’s teeth as a liquid, plastic-type material, and hardened with UV light to form a strong and durable cover for the small gaps and surfaces of the teeth. This resin stops bacteria and strong acids from causing decay, and can save your child from needing fillings or other treatments in the future. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends dental sealants for kids, particularly for children with a history of tooth decay.

Your Toothbrush and Toothpaste Are Your First Line of Defense

The easiest and most important method of cavity prevention is brushing your teeth, but finding the right toothbrush can be tricky. Whether you provide your child with a manual or electric toothbrush, it will be an essential tool in keeping their teeth healthy.

We recommend that you look for a toothbrush with soft, round-ended (polished) bristles. These will clean effectively while being gentle on the gums. Look for a brush designed for small hands and mouths, and don’t forget to replace it every three months or so. Worn out brushes aren’t as effective!

Your child will need help brushing until they’re about 7 to 8 years old, so be sure to work with them and supervise their brushing when they begin doing it themselves so that they learn good techniques to get every tooth surface clean.

Conclusion

The easiest and most important aspect of healthy oral care is brushing, but finding the right toothbrush takes some thought. Regardless of whether you choose a manual or electric toothbrush, it will be an essential tool in keeping your children’s teeth healthy. Brushes with soft, round-ended (polished) bristles will clean effectively while being gentle on the gums. You should also look for a brush designed for small hands and mouths, and remember to replace your child’s toothbrush every three months! Your child will need your help brushing until they are at least 7 years old, and demonstrating proper brushing techniques will be a crucial step in maintaining their oral health—so look after your own teeth as well!