As told by Dental Hygienist and mom of two, Ashley Boone, RDH.
As a Dental Hygienist, I am very passionate about oral hygiene. It has effects not only your oral health but your overall health as well. This includes heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. In my 11 years of practice, I have also grown passionate about Pediatric dentistry. I now that I have two sons of my own and believe proper oral hygiene habits should begin early for children.
Some of these habits include wiping the gums twice a day with a soft, clean cloth in the morning after the first feeding and right before bed in order to wipe away bacteria and sugars that can cause cavities. Once primary teeth start erupting, be sure to brush the teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush and plain water twice daily. Once the child is able to understand how to rinse and spit, fluoridated toothpaste and rinse can be incorporated into the daily routine. Learning to floss once a day is also essential to create a healthy routine. It is important to begin taking your child to the dentist when their first tooth comes in. Continue this every 6 months for routine check ups. This will ensure decay is detected early, proper oral hygiene is explained to parents and caregivers and it allows the child to feel comfortable and create a safe environment at the dentist.
Ask your dentist about when it is time to begin applying fluoride varnish and dental sealants at their dental appts. Oral hygiene isn’t just focused on brushing and flossing, but also consists of a healthy daily diet. This includes limiting bedtime snacks and drinking only water at night. Be cautious of sticky snacks and consuming a lot of carbohydrates which break down into sugar as well. Juice and milk are filled with sugar which can linger on your child’s teeth during the night and lead to decay. As a mother to a son with special needs, this was a difficult habit to break as my son was comforted with a bottle of milk during the night. However I knew how important this was to my son’s oral health, and with much effort we were able to incorporate a bottle of water instead of milk. Trust me, I’m not saying it is always easy to follow through with proper oral hygiene on little ones. There have been moments in my life that felt like I was wrestling an alligator in order to get my child’s teeth brushed.
Beginning early with these routines will not only reduce decay risk factors, but it will also instill lifelong routines that will continue on as an adult.
A few tips to make Dental Hygiene fun for kiddos:
Brushing and flossing together, upgrading to a Spinbrush or electric toothbrush, try singing songs for the full 2 minutes of brushing, incorporating an award system, picking out a special toothpaste, and even try crafts, books and videos together. Dental Hygiene can be fun when everyone is involved!
Ashley Boone, RDH
If you have further questions or want to know more about children’s dental health, please give us a call. We are happy to help you establish an oral health and hygiene plan for your little ones.