February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and what better time to educate your children about proper oral hygiene, cavity protection, and when to consider getting braces? Whether you have teenagers, toddlers or everything in between it’s never too early to start practicing and discussing correct oral hygiene. This article focuses mainly on teaching accurate oral hygiene techniques geared towards younger children, alongside tips to keep cavities at bay and when it’s time to see a orthodontist in Idaho Falls to discuss getting braces.
Good Oral Hygiene Starts at Home
Lessons on oral hygiene should begin right when your child’s first tooth or teeth start emerging. The sooner in life you establish this habit for your child, the easier it will be for them to stick to it and perform these habits correctly and independently. Most children get their first baby teeth between four-months-old to a year, so at this time you will be doing most of the brushing. To brush your child’s teeth, as well as teach them how to brush their teeth, follow these basic guidelines:
- Use a soft bristled, child size toothbrush to brush your child’s teeth two times a day.
- Use a rice size amount of fluoride toothpaste each time. At around the age of three, they can start to use a pea size amount of toothpaste.
- Make sure to gently clean each tooth and the gumline surrounding it from top to bottom, front to back to remove plaque and any stray food particles. Despite popular belief, the motion doesn’t matter so much as if the tooth gets thoroughly cleaned.
Tips To Make Tooth Brushing More Fun
If you’ve ever tried to brush a toddler’s teeth, you know that sometimes they can be uncooperative. If your child doesn’t enjoy brushing or getting their teeth brushed here are some tips to try to make it more enjoyable for the both of you:
- Let them pick out their toothbrush and toothpaste. This allows them to choose a toothbrush with maybe their favorite cartoon character and helps them to feel like they have a more active role during the event.
- Turn brushing into a game. If you’re struggling with your child brushing all of his teeth, play “try to find the hidden teeth”. This may motivate them to brush each and every tooth.
- Sing a song while they brush their teeth or turn on their favorite song using an app on your phone or the radio.
- Create simple rewards, like getting a gold star on their brushing chart or playing a game of tag. Keep these rewards simple and fun, try to avoid monetary rewards or gifts.
Never try to force toothbrushing, this will only make matters worse. If you’ve tried the above tips and nothing seems to be working contact your Idaho Falls orthodontist or dentist for additional techniques or tips that can help.
When to Floss
While brushing can start as soon as the first baby tooth emerges, flossing should begin when at least two teeth are touching. Flossing is as essential as brushing your teeth to avoid tooth decay so this habit should be done just as often as brushing teeth. Flossing helps to remove the buildup of plaque in between food and stray food particles. Most children won’t be able to floss effectively and independently until the age of six or seven so it is important as a parent or guardian that you teach them the proper techniques for flossing:
- Traditional Dental Floss – Show your child how to grip the dental floss between the index finger and thumb. Then, to decrease slippage, show your child how to wind the floss around their index finger. Show your child how to create a “C’ shape and move it gently between the teeth. Make sure to explain to your child that a new section of floss needs to be used between each tooth to prevent spreading bacteria and increase effectiveness.
- Floss Picks– Many younger children have a hard time using regular floss at first. If you both seem to be struggling with traditional floss, opt for children’s dental floss picks. These pre-strung floss picks are often easier for little ones to use. Make sure to tell your kids they need to use a new flosser each time.
Keeping Cavities Away
In addition to learning the proper oral hygiene techniques of brushing and flossing at an early age, it’s also important to avoid a sugary diet. The best way to avoid tooth decay and/or cavites is by keeping sugary foods to a minimum and making sure that your child brushes after eating sugary foods. The longer the exposure to sugar, the higher the chance that cavities will occur. While many people think that cavities in baby teeth aren’t as big of a deal as cavities in permanent teeth, the truth is that damage to baby teeth, be it in the form of cavities or tooth decay, can have detrimental impacts on adult teeth. So if your child is going to consume sugary food such as caramel, candy, gum, fruit, etc, have them brush and floss their teeth afterward.
Another step to avoid cavities, is by taking your children to see their dentist for regular checkups and cleanings at least two times a year. At these appointments your dentist will be able to spot bad oral hygiene habits, cavities, and may even recommend that your child visits an orthodontist in Idaho Falls.
When To See a Orthodontist in Idaho Falls
Unfortunately, maintaining proper oral hygiene and having a cavity free mouth won’t save you from needing braces if your teeth are misaligned, crowded, or you have an overbite or underbite. For these dental issues, your child will need to visit with an Idaho Falls orthodontist. Your orthodontist will be able to tell you when and if your child needs braces, what kind, and what you can expect throughout the process.
Generally speaking, Randall Orthodontics recommends that children see an orthodontist no later than the age of 7. Around this age, most children have lost all of their baby teeth and all or most of their adult teeth are coming in. It is at this formative stage that a orthodontist in Idaho Falls will be able to see any potential issues that may arise in the future and get them corrected as soon as possible.
It is much easier to correct a misaligned bite, teeth or overcrowded teeth in a younger person than it is in an older teenager or adult. Either way, having an evaluation performed by a orthodontist when your child is younger is the best plan of action to keep their smile beautiful, straight, and healthy as they grow older.
If you’d like to have your child come in for an orthodontic evaluation by Dr. Randall, don’t hesitate to give us a call.