What’s the Best Oral Care Routine for Kids?
Encouraging a consistent oral care routine in your child’s earliest years can help them develop healthy habits throughout their life. It can also help foster a sense of independence and responsibility that results in a bright, white smile!
Brushing not only helps protect young mouths, but it can also benefit the rest of the body as well. For example, brushing your teeth can help support a healthy heart and immune system. An oral hygiene routine can be the first line of defense for the body.
As many parents know, however, creating a routine that a child will stick to can sound far easier said than done. That’s why we created this guide to help you develop a simple, easy routine that your child can follow to keep their teeth and gums clean and protected.
It All Starts With Brushing
Healthy brushing habits are the foundation of any oral care routine. Both children and adults should brush their teeth for at least two minutes, two times each day. Typically, it is recommended that you brush after waking up in the morning and before going to bed. You can also encourage brushing more than twice daily after eating meals and snacks.
Because there is no difference between the amount of time that adults and children should brush their teeth, this creates a great opportunity for you to do something together. It will not only benefit their oral health, but it can also help you to form better oral hygiene habits in the process!
Take your child to the store and let them select their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Many stores offer designs featuring their favorite characters and toothpaste flavors that are sweeter and less intense than minty ones formulated for adults.
One major aspect of healthy brushing that many overlook is brushing the tongue. This can help remove further bacteria and plaque from the mouth. Don’t leave this part out during your regular brushing time!
Other Oral Hygiene Essentials
Flossing is another important step in healthy oral care habits. It can help dislodge pieces of food and remove plaque buildup from between the teeth.
We recommend that children floss once per day ideally at bedtime and before brushing. This will allow the brush’s bristles to reach between the teeth and clean those hard-to-reach areas more effectively.
Along with flossing, mouthwash can also help fight oral hygiene concerns throughout the entire mouth and the back of the throat. Encourage your child to use it daily or a few times per week. You could also have them alternate between flossing with one brushing session and mouthwash with the other.
Teach them how to use mouthwash rather than just letting it sit in their mouth. Modeling for them how to swish it between their teeth, gargle in the back of the throat, and remind them to spit it out into the sink and not swallowed when finished.
As with toothpaste, there are multiple types of mouthwash designed for children. These are typically less cooling, minty, and intense and often are available in flavors that are milder without sacrificing effectiveness.
If you have an older child with braces, flossing may prove more complex when trying to work around the wires and brackets. You should still encourage them to floss and ask your orthodontist and your dentist next time you are at the office what additional tools they recommend to aid in keeping the teeth and braces clean and effective.
Creating an Excellent Oral Care Routine
Now that we have covered some essentials for effective oral care, let’s put together a routine that is easy to follow:
- Every Day: Brush twice daily for two minutes, remembering to also pay attention to the tongue and to brush all the way down to the gums.
- Every Day: Floss at least once per day.
- Every Day: Rinse with mouthwash for one minute.
As your child continues to follow their oral care routine, you’ll notice some visible benefits. For example, they will have fresher breath and whiter teeth over time. Their gums will also maintain a healthy pink color and flossing will hurt or bother them less as they become accustomed to it.
For young children, consider observing their oral care routine. Also sometimes allowing your child to watch you brush and floss helps to model good hygiene habits and can make them more interested in participating. This will set a positive example for them to continue brushing and give them something to look forward to doing with you. You can also create a reward system with them for following their routine, such as a trip to the movies or buying ice cream.
Include Dental Appointments in Your Child’s Oral Care
Children should visit a pediatric dentist twice per year, or once every six months. A checkup and cleaning can help support the great work they’ve done by following their oral care routine and also help to remove any stubborn plaque or tartar that they were not able to clear on their own.
At Where Smiles Grow, our kids dentist are committed to providing the best pediatric dental experience to children throughout the New York Capital Region. To schedule an appointment at our Latham, Delmar, or Schodack offices, click here.