Creating lifelong oral health habits starts at the dentist
Creating and maintaining good habits is an important skill for everyone, no matter their age. For young children, however, starting these good habits can set your kiddos up for a lifetime of healthy habits. Parents who encourage their children to have good oral health habits such as brushing, flossing, and regularly seeing a dentist from a young age ensure they have healthier futures.
Early Oral Health Habits for Infants
Establishing oral health habits starts before birth. Women who are pregnant should see a dentist regularly to reduce the risk of oral infections, .Mothers with poor oral health care can pass bacteria from their mouths to their babies which can lead to significant oral health problems in the future.
Oral health care for your child can start as soon as they are born. Medical and dental professionals encourage parents to clean the gums of children who do not have teeth twice a day. This can be done with a clean, damp cloth or piece of gauze that is wiped gently over the gums. Not only does this clean their mouth, but it also establishes an early oral health habit of brushing twice a day.
Oral Health Habits in Toddlers and Young Children
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states “as soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush.” However, a study found that 80 percent of children in the United States start brushing their teeth later than is recommended.
Toddlers who do not practice good oral hygiene are more likely to develop plaque and tartar build-up on their teeth. This can lead to cavities at a very young age. Cavities in children can impact delayed speech and low self-esteem. Additionally, incorrect or insufficient tooth brushing may lead to excess bacteria in the body. This bacteria overgrowth may lead to inflammation in the body and oral diseases such as thrush.
Going to the dentist early creates life-long oral health habits
Of all the good habits parents should instill in their children, going to a dentist early and regularly is one of the most important.
Seeing a dentist by the age of 1 helps children become familiar with the process and what to expect. This will help them feel more at ease and comfortable when they go to the dentist. It’s a good idea to find a dental professional who has experience working with kids, such as a pediatric dentist, to make sure your child's first appointment goes smoothly.
With 50 to 80 percent of adults in the United States experiencing dental anxiety or fear, it’s important to make the dentist's office a comfortable space during childhood. People who suffer from dental anxiety are more likely to avoid dental checkups and have a higher risk of dental problems. Therefore, reducing dental anxiety in children is one of the best ways for parents to ensure good oral and overall health in the future.