Oral Hygiene for Infants (6 months to 2 years)
Excellent oral hygiene begins before your baby’s teeth have broken through the gumline – healthy teeth grow from healthy gums. At around six months of age, your child’s first teeth (usually the lower front teeth) will begin to come in.
Here’s how you should care for a baby’s teeth and gums:
- After feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a soft washcloth to displace bacteria, which can lead to tooth decay.
- Once teeth begin to emerge, brush them twice a day with a grain-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Book your baby’s first dental appointment before their first birthday or after his or her first baby tooth has come in - whichever arrives first.
- Limit soother use to nap time or bedtime starting at one or two years old.
Oral Hygiene for Children (ages 3 to 9)
A lot happens in these years as your child begins to grow up, and their oral hygiene routine needs to develop and change with them. Baby (primary) teeth should all be in by age three and will start falling out around age six when their adult (permanent) teeth start growing in. Most permanent teeth arrive by age 13.
Here are some age-appropriate oral care lessons for children aged three and up:
- Brush and floss together. Kids love copying their role models, so take advantage of this by having them watch you brush and floss. You can explain the process to them and make it sound exciting. Build good habits by starting to floss once a day when teeth touch (around 6 years of age).
- Choose a special brush and toothpaste. Make brushing fun by choosing a brightly coloured, soft-bristled toothbrush and flavoured toothpaste your child loves (use a pea-sized amount).
- Teach the importance of diet for healthy teeth. For excellent oral hygiene, calcium-rich foods like green vegetables, cheese, and yogurt are key.
- Limit sugary foods, fruit juices, and soda, which get stuck in the crevices of kids’ teeth and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Oral Hygiene for Pre-Teens (aged 10 to 12)
As children move on to the pre-teen stage of development they begin to grow independent and more active, which also means that their dental health needs become more similar to adults. At this age, it is important to:
- Discourage your teen from smoking tobacco. Not only is smoking and tobacco terrible for your lungs, but tobacco can also lead to many health issues, such as gum disease and oral cancers.
- Remind your pre-teen to drink water, and keep your fridge full of healthy snacks.
- Remind them how great a healthy, white smile looks. Appeal to appearance-conscious pre-teens by reminding them that maintaining excellent oral health will keep their teeth strong and their smile white.
- Continue bringing your pre-teen in for regular dental check-ups.