The Importance of Establishing Strong Pediatric Oral Hygiene
The COVID-19 pandemic has left lasting marks on everyone’s teeth and many of the habits that adults picked up – snacking, missing routine cleanings, not brushing daily – were ones that children also mirrored. Disrupted dental routines are the culprits for more cavities and nervous eating habits that are detrimental to your teeth, so it’s important to keep children engaged with their dental health and consistent with their routines.
Establishing and maintaining good dental health habits begins at home, and dentists have noticed the effects of forgetting to keep up with those habits. Snacking and brushing less have led to poor oral hygiene, and going to a dentist for a cleaning will not rewind the damage.
Children feel motivated to start healthy habits when their parents do the same. Making sure that you’re spending enough time brushing and flossing will encourage your child to stick to a routine – one that the two of you can do together.
Tips on how to create a good dental routine:
- Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride – a smear or pea size amount according to the child’s age
- Brush your teeth together
- Use a bathroom timer or sing a song while you brush to make sure you brush for 2 minutes
- Show children educational resources about dental health
- Let children choose their toothbrush – look for soft and age appropriate bristles
- Use a reward system
- Schedule regular visits to the dentist (every 3 – 6 months)
Creating a dental routine from an early age (since the eruption of the first tooth) will help children keep up with good habits, and teach them lifelong tips for a healthy smile. Before teeth eruption the gums can be wiped with a wet cloth or gauze after breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.
Dental cleaning frequency varies from patient to patient with those at high risk needing to be seen every 3 months and those at low risk, every year. Everyone should see a dentist at least once a year, and your dentist may recommend more frequent visits if your children are more prone to develop cavities or gum disease. Contact your dentist with questions about how to create solid routines for good hygiene. If your child does not have a dentist ask the Pediatrician for a referral to a Pediatric Dentist.
The College of Dentistry offers services in comprehensive, urgent, and specialty care. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with our Infant Oral Health Clinic or Pediatric Clinic, please visit: https://dentistry.uic.edu/patients/request-an-appointment/ or call (312) 413-0972.