The Importance of Good Dental Hygiene
Posted on February 8, 2017 by CHS
As parents, you understand the importance of regular checkups with your child’s pediatrician. However, parents underestimate the importance for children to make regular visits to the dentist. A regular visit to the dentist is essential to keep your child’s teeth healthy and cavity free throughout childhood and into adulthood. With support from the American Dental Association, February 7 is Give Kids a Smile Day, when volunteer dental teams give underserved children free oral health services. You can use this time to become more aware the importance of visiting the dentist ̶ as early as the toddler years.
According to Dr. Brian Heck, a family dentist in Lawrence, KS, seeing kids in the dental office every six months not only makes it easier to catch tooth decay (cavities) in its early stages, but also helps kids be more comfortable with going to the dentist. By sticking to this habitual timeline, your child will learn to believe going to dentist is a normal occurrence and will continue this into adulthood.
While many dentists have differing opinions on when parents should bring their children to the dentist for the first time, the timeline generally ranges between six months to 3 years old. Dr. Heck recommends the first visit around two years old. At early age, toddlers can get tooth decay from falling asleep with a sippy cup or bottle in their mouth or thumb sucking. By going to the dentist regularly, your dentist can catch any decays early on and also teach you the proper oral hygiene that your child can follow at home.
A variety of problems can appear when parents avoid early visits to the dentist. There is a myth that baby teeth can be decayed without doing any damage to the adult teeth. This is false. Baby teeth are supposed to serve the function of holding space for the permanent teeth to grow in, and the premature loss of baby teeth can lead to crowding and shifting issues with the adult teeth. Additionally, decay that goes undiagnosed for too long can lead to infection and in some cases, tooth extraction.
Dentists also recommend that you start cleaning your infant’s teeth as soon as she gets her first tooth. Make sure to also clean her gums even before she gets any teeth. At first, you can use a wash cloth to clean your infant’s teeth and as she gets more teeth, you can start using a soft toothbrush for children. According to Oral B, once a child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between the ages of two and six, parent should start to get their children in the habit of flossing daily. As they continue to grow older, you can help them to learn to floss. Children usually develop the ability to floss on their own around the age of 10. By turning flossing into a habit early on, it will become a daily oral routine like brushing teeth and it will carry on to her adulthood.
Repetition turns into habits and regular dentist visits and good oral hygiene are good habits you want your child to have. If your child doesn’t have this incorporated into his daily life yet, start now! It’s February, still early enough to make this a New Year Resolution for your child!