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Teaching Children Good Dental Habits

childrenNew parents often wonder when they need to start thinking about their children's dental care. The answer may be surprising. Dental care should begin as soon as those pearly whites begin to appear.

During the first twelve months, it's important to stay gentle with teeth cleaning. Teething can be painful, so a soft brush designed for infant dental care is usually all that's needed. By one year old, children should be transitioning away from bottles to sippy cups or regular cups to avoid tooth decay. As well, pacifiers should be curtailed to prevent future alignment problems with the teeth.

As early as possible, it's a smart idea to begin stressing the importance of dental care. This should include forming a regular cleaning routine and discussing the importance of good oral hygiene.

The following tips can also help establish those early dental habits which can help ensure a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Set Designated Times for Brushing

Children need consistency to build habits. So, it's a good idea to clearly communicate when they need to brush their teeth. This should ideally be three times a day or at the least in the morning and before bed at night.

Teach Brushing Technique

Instructing children on how to brush is just as important as educating them on how often to brush. By demonstrating proper technique and the importance of brushing for two to three minutes, children can start gaining the skills they need to properly care for their own teeth. Your child's dentist or hygienist can also help demonstrate correct brushing technique and provide strategies for making them fun.

Use Mouthwash

As soon as your child is old enough not to swallow mouthwash, it can be added to his or her dental care routine. It's an easy way, that most kids enjoy, to help keep teeth healthy and breath smelling fresh. As a side note, remember to always supervise the use of mouthwash, and to keep it out of children's reach when not being used.

Incorporate Flossing into the Daily Routine

Flossing is a key component to dental care and one of the best ways to prevent gum disease from starting. Don't think of flossing as a once in a while activity. It should be an everyday step in a child's dental plan.

Schedule Regular Appointments

The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist by their first birthday. These early visits can help in the detection of common childhood oral disease and cavities. They can also help build a comfort level with the dentist so that they don't develop fear as they grow older.

Be a Role Model

Perhaps, nothing can help instill good dental habits more than serving as a good role model for your children. By taking good care of your teeth on a daily basis, scheduling regular appointments, and being proactive when a problem arises, your children will understand what it takes to keep teeth healthy for a lifetime.