Good oral hygiene habits begin in childhood. We discuss why it is critical to instil habits early in childhood and to reinforce them throughout childhood.
Oral Hygiene for Infants (up to age 2)
Effective oral hygiene begins even before your baby's teeth break through the gumline – healthy teeth grow from healthy gums. Your child's first teeth (usually the lower front teeth) will begin to emerge around six months of age.
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 remove bacteria, which cause tooth decay.
- Once teeth begin to arrive, brush twice daily 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 (aged 3 to 9)
As your child grows, their oral hygiene plan must adapt. By age three, all of their baby (primary) teeth should be in and will begin to fall out around the time their adult (permanent) teeth begin to grow in. By the time a child reaches the age of 13, the majority of permanent teeth should have erupted
Here are some age-appropriate oral care lessons for children aged three and up:
- Brush and floss concurrently. Children enjoy imitating adults; capitalize on this by having them watch you brush and floss while you explain the process. Establish healthy habits by flossing once daily when teeth come into contact (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 kids enter their pre-teen years and grow more independent and active, their dental health needs become more similar to adults. At this age:
- Discourage tobacco use. Not only are smoking and tobacco terrible for your lungs, but tobacco can also lead to many diseases, 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 beautiful a white, healthy smile is. Remind appearance-conscious pre-teens that good oral health will keep their teeth strong and their smile white.
- Continue regular dental visits.