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Did you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? This is a great time to emphasize the importance of dental health and oral care with your kids! It’s never too early to start teaching your children how to take good care of their teeth. Let’s discuss a few tips for keeping their teeth healthy.

Brush, Brush, Brush!

It’s no secret that one of the most important components of good dental health is regular brushing. However, your child’s brushing routine will look slightly different depending on their age—and will change as they grow and learn.

Even before your child’s first teeth peek through their gums, harmful bacteria can gather in the mouth. To remove it, wipe their gums with a clean, damp cloth. As your baby starts to get teeth, you can start brushing with a children’s toothbrush and a rice-sized amount of fluoride-free toothpaste. Try to avoid toothpaste with fluoride until your child is old enough to consistently spit out toothpaste after brushing.

As you help and teach your child to brush their teeth, show them how to reach their back teeth, gums, and tongue. Teach them how to brush for two minutes by setting a timer, using a two-minute hourglass, or playing a two-minute song! By the time they are capable of thoroughly brushing on their own (around 7-8 years old), they will have a solid base of brushing knowledge that you can continually reinforce. Just like adults, children should brush their teeth at least twice a day—and definitely before bed.

Don’t Forget to Floss

Once your child’s teeth are touching, it’s time to start flossing at least once a day. This may happen earlier than you might expect, but flossing is important from a young age! Dental floss removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth, which helps to prevent cavities and gum inflammation. If it is difficult to reach the far teeth when you are helping your child floss, consider switching to floss picks with a long handle. These picks can also make it easier for your child to learn how to floss on their own, rather than dealing with all that slippery string.

Be a Good Example

Children imitate and learn from the people around them. If you demonstrate good oral care through your own brushing and flossing routines, your child will be more likely to follow through with theirs. Make toothbrushing time a family activity by brushing together! Help them think of brushing their teeth as a regular part of their routine rather than a chore.

Make Brushing Fun

To encourage positive emotions towards brushing—or if your child is starting to lose interest in brushing—try making the experience a little more fun! Start by letting them pick out their own toothbrush or choosing a song to play while brushing. Some toothbrushes even light up for two minutes to help track time! Older kids might enjoy using plaque disclosing tablets or rinses that use bright colors to show exactly where plaque is left. Or, if your child is motivated by seeing their progress and getting rewards, use fun stickers on a goal chart that lead to a small prize.

Choose Healthy Foods

What your child eats can also have a direct impact on their dental health. Sugary foods and drinks such as sticky candy, soda, and juice are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to cavities, as sugar can cause tooth decay. Teach your child to rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after eating these sugary snacks, and focus on giving them healthy snacks and drinks that will help keep their teeth strong instead.

Ask About Sealants

The theme of National Children’s Dental Health Month for 2022 is “Sealants Make Sense.” Dental sealants are a thin layer of resin that coat the surface of your child’s teeth. Dental sealants prevent tooth decay by blocking out bacteria and food particles from reaching the chewing surfaces on back molars, which can be difficult to reach and keep clean with a toothbrush and floss. Ask your child’s dentist if they think sealants are a good option for your child!

Visit the Dentist

Make it a priority to take your child to the dentist for their regular checkups and cleanings. Dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar buildup, and a dentist can spot potential dental issues—such as cavities—before they become serious. Dental cleanings should happen every six months for both children and adults.

Dental health is an important part of overall health, and it’s never too early to start teaching your child about good oral hygiene. Time for a cleaning? Schedule an appointment for your child today.