How to Teach Your Kids Good Dental Hygiene

Of all the dental problems that can affect a child, which one do you think is the most common? You guessed it – cavities. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 50 percent of children have one or more cavities by the time they turn five.

You may shrug at this finding with the false assumption that baby teeth don’t matter because they fall out anyway. However, decayed baby teeth can negatively affect the growth and eruption of permanent teeth. Plus, if your child doesn’t have good habits at a young age, he or she is more likely to suffer dental problems in the future.

Now that you recognize the importance of good dental hygiene in children, here’s how to instill healthy behaviors that reduce the chance of cavities.

Teach Proper Tooth Brushing Techniques

As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, make it a habit of brushing every morning and night. For infants, this means rubbing a clean, wet washcloth over your child’s teeth.

Starting at age three, you can begin using a pea-sized amount of kid’s fluoride toothpaste on a child-sized toothbrush. Encourage your child not to swallow the toothpaste, but know that ingesting this small amount won’t cause any harm.

Help your child hold the toothbrush and demonstrate how to brush the front, top and back of each tooth. Continue to supervise tooth brushing until your child can do it alone, usually between six and eight years old.

Teach Which Foods Cause Cavities

Diet is a significant factor in your child’s overall dental health. Teach that sticky, sugary foods linger on the teeth for hours and wear away at the enamel, causing cavities. You can use this information to encourage your child to eat healthier. After indulging in caramel, toffee, gummy bears, juice or soda, teach your child to brush as soon as possible or at least swish with water to wash away the sugar.

Teach About the Importance of Dental Checkups

At-home dental care is important, but nothing compares to a professional cleaning at the dentist’s office. Strive to take your child to a kid-friendly dentist starting at age one. Then, return once every six months or as recommended by the dentist for on-going check-ups and cleanings.

Practice What You Preach

The best way to get your child on board with these dental hygiene tips is to lead by example. If you expect your child to brush every morning and night, you had better do the same. If you serve apple slices explaining that candy is bad for your teeth, don’t sneak candy when your child isn’t looking. And if you require your child to visit the dentist every six months, you should follow suit.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s dental hygiene, or if it’s time to schedule a dentist appointment for anyone in your family, please contact Zen Dental Center in Seattle by calling 206-324-1100. As a family dentist, we provide excellent oral care to kids and adults alike.


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