Instilling good oral hygiene habits in your child when they are young helps start them off on the right foot for the rest of their lives. At the same time, if one of your child’s baby teeth suffers from advanced tooth decay it might need to be extracted before it would have naturally fallen out on its own. This increases the chances of the permanent tooth that emerges will develop alignment issues in that area.
Most children have their first tooth emerge from their gums between four to six months old. The ADA recommends you brush and floss your child’s teeth as soon as they emerge from their gums. This help to maintain their oral health, and instills an early understanding of the value of good oral hygiene habits.
As your child grows their motor skills will continue to develop and they can take over brushing their own teeth. At first, you can let them play at brushing back and forth while you offer some gentle instruction. After they are done you can follow up with some additional brushing to make sure all their teeth are cleaned of plaque and food particles.
Flossing a child’s teeth can be a little bit challenging because their mouth is small. You may need to use your pinky fingers to reach their molars and other hard to reach parts of their mouth. As their motor skills continue to improve and more teeth grow close together, they can start flossing their own teeth with either regular floss or a floss stick that has wax coating.
Try to keep the process fun and upbeat. Brushing and flossing your own teeth right beside them also sets a good example for them to follow. Giving out gold stars or other forms of encouragement for a good job, gives them pride and associate it as a positive part of life.
At Family Smile Center, we are dedicated to helping you instill good oral hygiene habits that will last a lifetime. If you have questions about how or when to introduce your child to brushing flossing, please feel free to call us at 301.663.9484 to schedule an appointment.