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Am I Doing Enough at Home for My Kids' Dental Care?

Kids Teeth

Healthy teeth and gums are important to your kids' oral health. One of the best ways to help your children maintain good oral health is to encourage proper oral care at home. Having your kids establish an oral care routine at a young age creates healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

How to Improve Your Kids' Oral Health

Proper tooth brushing is an essential part of your kids' oral care routine. It helps to remove plaque and food debris that can damage your kids' teeth and gums. You should brush your kids' teeth twice a day for two minutes, or as directed by their dentist. Your kids can learn how to brush their own teeth at about three years of age, and should be able to brush entirely by themselves by the age of six or seven. Be sure to supervise their brushing until they reach the age of 10 or 11.

When brushing your kids' teeth, make sure to use a soft toothbrush with round-ended bristles and an age-appropriate amount of an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is important as it helps to make your children's teeth stronger and more resistant to cavities. Mouthwash with fluoride can also help protect your kids' teeth, but only add it to their oral care routine once they reach the age of six, or sooner if recommended by their dentist.

Brushing only cleans about 65 percent of the surface of the teeth, so it's important that you floss between your kids' teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch. This usually occurs between the ages of two and six. When flossing your children's teeth, make sure to use soft, flexible floss that's gentle on their teeth and gums. Flossing demands more fine motor skill than brushing, so your kids may need help with flossing up until the age of 10 or 11. You may find that an interdental brush or a floss holder makes flossing easier for your children.

Once your kids reach the age of six, you can introduce them to plaque-disclosing products. These products contain a harmless dye that reacts with any plaque that may remain after cleaning. Your kids can use them to identify areas to focus on during brushing and flossing.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid for Healthier Teeth

Following a healthy, balanced diet can help your kids avoid oral health problems, such as cavities and gum disease. To keep your children's teeth healthy, try to avoid or limit their consumption of the following foods and drinks:

  • Acidic foods and drinks, such as oranges, tomatoes and carbonated soft drinks
  • Starchy foods that linger on the teeth, such as soft bread, potato chips and breakfast cereals
  • Sugary foods and drinks, such as chocolate, fruit juices and sweetened sodas

In addition to avoiding or limiting certain foods and drinks, it's advisable to pay attention to your kids' eating habits. Frequent snacking can cause plaque to build up on your children's teeth and gums, so try to limit snacks to no more than one or two a day. If you do serve snacks, offer nutritious foods, such as cheese, carrots, celery and unsweetened yogurt.

When to Schedule Dental Check-Ups for Your Kids

The American Dental Association recommends that children attend a dental check-up every six months. However, your kids' dentist can tell you how often your kids should visit based on an evaluation of their oral health.

The earlier you can get your kids to make good oral care a habit, the easier it will be for them to maintain good oral health. To learn more about the importance of good oral hygiene, or to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, please contact us today.

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