A lifetime of good oral health can start early in childhood. The things you teach your child about oral health and the way you approach your own oral health can both have an impact for years to come. This is good news! The fact that you can have such a big impact puts you in a good position to set your child up for lifelong dental health. The first part of setting your child up for lifelong dental health starts at home. The second part of the process starts with getting your child to the dentist. Getting these elements in place are key factors in setting your child up for lifelong dental health.
Habits at home
The first key to lifelong dental health is to establish good oral care habits at home. Brushing is the easiest oral care habit to start. Small children can start getting in the habit of brushing even if they do not have teeth. You can get a soft bristle brush for your little one and let him or her ‘brush’ each night before bed and each morning before starting the day. Establishing this routine will make the process of brushing a normal part of your child’s life from the very beginning. As your child gets older, brushing becomes even more important because it helps protect their young teeth. Choose a toothbrush that is appropriate for the size of your child’s mouth and provide toothpaste that is age-appropriate (no fluoride before the age of 2). Another important habit to establish at home is flossing. Once your child has more than one tooth you can start establishing the habit of flossing in order to help prevent decay and gum disease. Little kids often think it is fun to imitate the things that the adults in their lives do. If you let your child see you brushing and flossing it may help cement these habits for them.
Regular dental care
The second part of setting your child up for lifelong dental health is to get regular dental care. Routine visits to the dentist will help you catch and deal with issues quickly. Some children need early orthodontic intervention which can be caught during routine dental care. Regular visits to the dentist can help remove plaque, tartar, and prevent decay. Another benefit of getting regular dental care for your child is to establish the habit of going to the dentist. If you get regular dental care for your child from an early age it makes going to the dentist a familiar event which can help reduce fear or anxiety about going. The general recommendation for children is to visit the dentist twice per year unless there is a problem that requires more frequent visits.
It is not complicated to set your child up for lifelong dental health but it does require consistency. Starting early helps because you can get the habits of brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist established while your child is young.