Positive habits that support mouth and gum health start at an early age. Children learn how and when to brush and floss from parents and caregivers, so starting off on the right foot at an early age is important for a lifetime of dental health. In honor of February's designation as National Children's Dental Health Month, Wonder Labs presents five ways to help children learn techniques for good oral hygiene and embrace the importance of dental health.
- Visit the Dentist: Your child's first trip to the dentist should take place between ages six months and one year, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).
- Brush from the Beginning: Once your child has his or her first tooth, use a soft child's toothbrush or cloth and water to clean the tooth and gums, recommends AAPD. Do not use fluoride toothpaste on a baby or young child because fluoride can be toxic or dangerous. There are specially formatted toothpastes that are made just for kids. Consult your dentist for recommendations on the type and amount of toothpaste before you begin your routine to ensure you're using the right products for your child's age.
- You Pick: Encourage your child to pick out his or her own toothbrush. Most grocery stores and big box stores have a kid's toothbrush section.
- Make Brushing a Game: Oral hygiene is serious business, so help ensure your kids respond by making it a game. Experts (www.mouthhealthy.org) recommend that the brushing session should last two minutes twice a day. Applaud your child's efforts by conducting a light-hearted tooth inspection after the last rinse.
- Floss and Rinse: Encourage flossing and rinsing too. For most children regular floss is difficult to hold and maneuver, so you'll have to lend a hand. You can also try floss picks, which might be easier for young kids to handle.