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The Importance of Establishing Proper Dental Hygiene Habits in Children

Wondering how to give your child the best start possible in life? Teaching them to take care of their teeth, gums, and mouth is a great place to start. From your child’s first dental visit — when they get their first tooth, or no later than their first birthday — to the loss of their last baby tooth, your kids’ oral hygiene habits can make or break their dental health. 

At Yorktown Pediatric Dentistry in Yorktown Heights, New York, pediatric dentist Dr. Staci Brunell, DMD and the rest of our dental team focus on helping parents create quality at-home oral hygiene regimens to keep their kids’ teeth and gums healthy from visit to visit. 

Oral hygiene 101

Your child’s first year of life should include the beginning of lifelong attention paid to their teeth. If you start off on the right foot, you can make oral hygiene and routine dental care a matter of course, not a chore or something to dread.

Clean your infant’s gums and mouth with a wet clean cloth until their first tooth appears. Then you can move to a tiny smear of children’s fluoridated toothpaste on a soft toothbrush. Fluoride supplementation can cut the risk of tooth decay by up to 50%! 

Your child’s first dental visit is typically a quick one, so Dr. Brunell can check their teeth and they can be introduced to the dentist’s chair. Keep visiting our office every six months for a routine checkup and quick cleaning. When your child’s molars start to erupt, ask about dental sealants — they can prevent up to 80% of cavities that often form in the crevices of back teeth. 

Locking in healthy habits

As your child’s teeth continue to come in, make a habit of brushing immediately after meals and rinsing with clean water. Limit between-meal snacks and beverages, offering water instead of milk or juice. You can also introduce flossing, helping your child to carefully apply light pressure up and down the side of each tooth from the tips to the gumline. 

Your child may need help with their at-home oral hygiene routine until they’re at least 6-7 years old. Brush and floss your own teeth beside them — you can lead by example and keep an eye on their habits. 

By making sure your children learn solid oral health care skills and become accustomed to visiting the dentist regularly, you can provide a strong foundation for dental health that can last them the rest of their lives, lowering their chances of tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease and improving their overall health. 

Is it time for your or your child’s next dental cleaning and checkup? Book your appointment with Dr. Brunell at our pediatric dental clinic. Call or use our convenient online scheduling tool. 

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