Preventative dental care is so important when setting up your child (and yourself) to live your best life. It’s not just about bad breath, it’s tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to other more serious health problems.
From day one, your child’s health lies in your hands and that includes their mouth care. Your baby is born with all of their teeth but they are just hidden in the gums.
So, proper mouth care can and should start from day one! As your child grows, teaching them proper mouth care by example and routine will set them up for future success.
Oral Hygiene from Infant to Adult
Some babies are born with teeth 😱, it’s rare, but it’s a thing! Otherwise, it’s more common for your little babe to start getting their teeth around 6 months. Just because you don’t see any teeth, doesn’t mean you can’t start with their oral care. Healthy gums produce healthy teeth!
As children grow they will have their primary teeth by age 3. Those teeth will start falling out around age 6 and then adult teeth start coming in. They should have most of their permanent teeth by 13.
Oral care habits should grow as the child does.
Here are some tips as they grow:
- Mouth Care for Infants
- Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after feeding (to remove bacteria that can cause tooth decay).
- Once you see teeth, begin brushing twice a day with a small smear of baby or training toothpaste (that is safe if it gets swallowed) and with a soft-bristle toothbrush.
- Don’t let your baby go to bed with a bottle. It can lead to something called baby bottle tooth decay that can occur with infants and young children when they are put to bed with a bottle that has sugars (like milk, formula, and fruit juice). Better to feed them ahead of time, brush their teeth, and let them go to bed without the bottle.
- Schedule your baby’s first dental appointment before their 1st birthday or after their first tooth appears (whichever comes first)!
2. Mouth Care for Children (Age 2+)
- Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and teach your child to spit it out after brushing.
- Make it fun and teach your child to brush for at least 2 minutes, twice a day (usually morning and night).
- Start flossing as soon as teeth touch. You will most likely need to do most of the work for a while.
- Visit the dentist every 6 months.
3. Additional Mouth Care Tips
- Flossing. Everyone knows what it is but a large amount of the population chooses not to do it! If you fail to floss, you fail to clean 40% of your tooth’s surface, that’s a lot!
- If you or your children play sports, wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth from injuries.
What Can Affect Dental Health? (The Good and the Bad)
Your diet can have a big impact on your dental health. Are you a soda lover? If you drink 3 or more glasses of soda a day you have 62% more tooth decay, fillings, and tooth loss than those who don’t. Yikes!
Sugar is another culprit when it comes to oral health. Sugar attracts bad bacteria which turns into plaque (the enemy). If plaque is not washed away by saliva or brushing, then you can say hello to cavities!
But there are other sneaky things that can affect your oral hygiene.
One of those sneaky ingredients is sodium lauryl sulfate or more commonly known as SLS. Lots of toothpaste have SLS in it, which can be a bit ironic seeing that it can dry out the mouth and lead to things like canker sores.
But not all ingredients are bad.
Take Xylitol! Xylitol has been found to reduce dental caries disease and also has been found to reverse the process of early caries. Dental caries is the scientific term for tooth decay or cavities.
There’s also Calcium Hydroxyapatite. Calcium Hydroxyapatite has almost the same composition as our teeth, which means it can provide minerals to demineralized areas of the tooth, restoring the enamel to its near-natural state! It’s also a great alternative ingredient to fluoride, which some people prefer not to use.
Mouth Care Starts From Day One
Mouth care isn’t just about teeth, gums are very important too! So, even though your baby will lose their teeth, oral health care starts from the gums AND starts immediately.
Babies thrive off of routines. Morning and nighttime routines help make waking up and going to bed easier. Why not throw in your mouth care routine along with it?
Teaching your kids that it’s fun and beneficial to take care of their teeth will help promote a lifetime of good oral hygiene!
And remember, paying close attention to the ingredients on your toothpaste can also impact your mouth care!