Tip #1: Take Your Child To The Dentist By The Age of 1 Year
Many parents don’t take their child to the dentist until there is a full set of baby teeth but, according to the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Amerian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, every child should see a dentist by the time they reach their 1st birthday! Why? To help your child get to know the pediatric dentist, become comfortable in the pediatric dental office environment, and to learn that it’s OK for the dentist to examine their teeth. Plus, if your child has teeth that touch other teeth, it’s not too early to look for tooth decay and potential alignment problems.
Tip #2: Your Child Should Be Able to Brush by the Age of 6
If your child can tie his own shoes, it’s likely that he has the manual dexterity to brush his own teeth. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t there to supervise, as kids are often in a rush to get to more engaging and fun activities and might skimp on brushing time! Let them brush, then do one more cursory brush of their teeth to be certain you get behind the teeth as well as on the “tops” of the teeth!
Tip #3: Your Child Should Know How to Floss by the Age of 10
Most kids don’t have the manual dexterity necessary to do an adequate job of flossing their teeth until they are about 10 years old. It’s super important that you, as the parent, floss your child’s teeth daily, without fail, both to ensure healthy teeth and to instruct your child on the proper method of flossing. You don’t have to rely only on string dental floss, either! There are plenty of kid-worthy dental picks that are cute for kids and don’t have sharp picks on the ends. Ultimately, you want your kids (and you!) to use dental floss to avoid re-using the same short length of floss inherent in those dental picks but, at least to get into the flossing habit, let the kids use the cute picks.
Tip #4: Get Dental Sealants
As mentioned above, kids aren’t always diligent in terms of brushing well enough to remove all food particles plus they have a habit of eating and drinking randomly through the day, exposing their teeth to sugars that can mix with bacteria to develop a dental cavity. Sealants will seal both the first and second molars (approximately ages 6 and 12, respectively) to keep the “pits” in the tops of those teeth from absorbing sugars and harboring bacteria that leads to cavities. It’s quick, easy and painless and your child won’t even know the sealants are there.
Tip #5: Set a Good Example
Regardless of the rules we set, kids learn best by example and, in their youngest years, you are that example. If you go to the dentist on a regular basis, they will grow up understanding the normalcy of that behavior and do likewise. If you brush and floss twice a day, they will learn that that’s the thing to do.