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23 Jan 2024

Dental hygiene for children

A child’s dental hygiene is important for dental and general health. Introducing your child to the right dental habits will help them develop a good oral care routine that remains with them throughout life.

The information below gives parents a guide on managing their children’s dental hygiene.

Dental hygiene for infants

You can’t see a baby’s teeth immediately after birth since the teeth are still embedded in the gums. Babies start teething at about six months. You should start good oral care for the child when the first tooth erupts.

You can start with wiping the baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after feeding. Wiping the gums helps remove bacteria in the mouth that may cause decay. After the first tooth erupts, you can start using a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to clean the baby’s teeth twice daily.

Ensure the amount of toothpaste isn’t larger than a rice grain, and get the child a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Always take the bottle away after the child finishes drinking to prevent baby bottle decay. This condition occurs when babies drink juice, formula, or milk from a bottle for long periods. Baby bottle decay may also occur if the child always falls asleep drinking from a bottle.

Caring for your teething baby

Teething usually begins around six months, but some children start teething earlier. This often leaves the baby with uncomfortably sore ad red gums because the teeth are trying to push through the gum.

The common signs of teething are irritability, swollen gums, flushed cheeks, dribbling, and increased chewing.

The following can help your baby get through teething

  • Try to keep the baby distracted with fun activities
  • Be careful while wiping away excess dribbling so your baby doesn’t have stinging skin around the chin due to irritation
  • Get chilled teething rings to soothe the irritated gums
  • If the baby is in pain, gently apply a sugar-free teething gel to the gums to numb the area. The last resort is giving the child a dose of sugar-free medicine for babies

Why you should avoid dummies

In the past, dummies were essential for babies and seemed like a good solution to deal with teething issues, but dental experts advise against the constant use of dummies. Dummies apply pressure on the baby’s mouth and make emerging teeth move out of alignment.

What is the next step?

Children usually have their baby teeth at age three. These are baby teeth or primary teeth. The baby teeth start to fall out at about six years, and then the permanent or adult teeth start to erupt. Most permanent teeth erupt by age 13.

You need to book your child’s first dental appointment when the first baby tooth comes in.

Oral care for children

The following tips apply to ensure your child’s teeth are strong and healthy.

  • Give the child a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and ensure they spit out the toothpaste after brushing 
  • Ensure your child brushes for a minimum of two minutes per day
  • Ensure someone supervises your child while brushing
  • Teach the child to start flossing as the teeth touch or earlier to ensure the child develops a good oral hygiene routine
  • Help your child to floss and brush, and remind them always to brush the back of the teeth
  • Visit your dental professional every six months for check-ups and cleaning

Oral care for pre-teens

As a child grows older and more permanent teeth erupt, developing a regular dental care routine is necessary to keep the gums and teeth healthy. If often difficult to keep your pre-teen interesting in caring for their oral health. The following tips can help maintain your pre-teen’s teeth and gums.

  • Remind your pre-teen child to brush at least two times every day
  • Ensure they brush their teeth for a minimum of two minutes. You can advise your child to use an electric toothbrush that has an in-built timer or set the timer on their phone
  • Always tell your child that keeping the teeth, gums, and mouth will help them feel and look better. This advice will be helpful if your child is becoming more conscious of appearance
  • If they are wearing braces, ensure they use an electric toothbrush and remind the child to floss to prevent white spots after the braces treatment
  • If your child engages in sports, advise them to wear a mouth guard for protection from trauma or accidents
  • Inform your child that flossing every day will prevent plaque and cavities, which may cause tooth loss

You can book a dental hygienist appointment online for your child’s routine dental check-up and teeth cleaning.