For most people, brushing your teeth is an automatic habit. If you miss your twice-daily regimen for any reason, you may be hyper aware of your teeth feeling grimy, or of bad breath. But children haven’t developed those habits yet, and most kids don’t bat an eye at missing a tooth-brushing session before bedtime. In fact, many go out of their way to avoid brushing!
That’s why it’s so important that children learn good oral health habits early, so that those habits stick with them and lead them to grow into adults with better oral hygiene and better teeth.
February is Children’s Oral Health Month
To spread awareness of children’s oral health education, February is National Children’s Oral Health Month. During this month, dental health professionals and parents alike work to instill the best possible oral health education in their patients and children to set them up for a healthy future.
There are a few keys to raising children with good oral health: Teaching the habits early, being thorough, and setting a good example.
It’s never too early to start good oral health care! Most babies get their first teeth between four and seven months old, and those teeth need to be cleaned and cared for. By age one, children should already be getting their teeth brushed twice daily, just like an adult. They should also start seeing a dentist as soon as they start getting teeth. The earlier that consistent tooth-brushing starts, the less likely that children will be to fight it, and the more natural the habit will feel.
And of course, just brushing isn’t enough. It’s important that parents teach thorough, effective oral health care. Teeth need to be brushed well in order for a tooth-brushing habit to be impactful. Parents should ensure that the toothbrush is getting down to the gumline to remove plaque, and that teeth are being brushed on both the front and the back.
Many children don’t have the fine motor skills necessary to brush their own teeth well until around six or seven years old. For this reason, either parents should brush children’s teeth for them until around that age, or tooth brushing should be closely monitored and coached.
Children may not need to floss at first. Your dentist will recommend when flossing is necessary for children’s teeth.
Practice What You Preach
It’s imperative that parents set a good example for children by practicing what they preach! If your child doesn’t see you brushing your teeth and flossing thoroughly every night and morning, or if you avoid heading to the dentist for checkups and cleanings, it will undermine any efforts to teach them good habits.
And while it’s valuable to develop these skills and habits at a young age, you’re never too old to learn good oral hygiene! Your dentist would probably be happy to give you a refresher course on how to brush and floss effectively, and can even show you what areas of your mouth are being neglected and could use a little more attention.
If you need a dentist in Rockland County, call (845) 627-7645 or contact us online to make an appointment.