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The Importance of Establishing Good Dental Habits in Children

March 21, 2024 ABC Children's Dentistry

Dental health is an important part of overall well-being for children.  Having a bright, healthy smile is not just an appearance issue; it actually affects children’s overall health and wellness.  In order to achieve healthy teeth, it is essential to start practicing good dental habits from a young age. By establishing and maintaining these habits early on, children can enjoy healthier teeth and gums for a lifetime. Here are some important steps to help children develop good dental habits:

  1. Brushing Twice a Day. There is a reason “twice a day” brushing has been a standard for many years: children need to remove plaque buildup after eating all day (night brushing) and when they wake up (morning brushing) to discourage bacterial growth.  Encourage children to brush their teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime. Teach them to use fluoride toothpaste and the correct brushing technique: moving the toothbrush in gentle, circular motions to clean all surfaces of the teeth.  A children’s dentist can help you demonstrate the right brushing methods.
  2. Flossing Daily: Children are much less likely to floss regularly than to brush, but flossing is “the other half” of daily oral care. It reaches and removes food particles and plaque from between teeth where toothbrushes cannot reach. A children’s dentist can help you teach them how to use dental floss gently to avoid hurting their gums.
  3. Healthy Eating Habits: You can help your children maintain both oral and overall health by emphasizing the role of a balanced diet. Avoiding certain foods can help your children not only maintain good dental health but also avoid other issues such as diabetes and obesity. Limit sugary snacks and drinks, as sugar can contribute to tooth decay. Encourage the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products that are beneficial for overall health.  When children are allowed the occasional sugary treat, be sure to have them brush afterwards if possible.  Immediate brushing helps reduce the chance of plaque buildup.
  4. Regular Dental Check-ups: Schedule regular visits to the dentist for check-ups and professional cleanings. This not only helps in learning good habits but also allows you to prevent many dental issues and catch problems early. Make these visits a positive experience to reduce fear and anxiety about dental appointments. A professional children’s dental team can help your child learn to enjoy their dental visits!
  5. Lead by Example: Children learn best by observing adults. Set a good example by practicing good dental habits yourself. Brush and floss alongside them to make it a fun and interactive experience. Do not encourage sugary snacks; opt for fruit or other choices instead.  Go to the dentist regularly yourself, and your children will be much more likely to make dental care a priority!
  6. Use Rewards and Encouragement: Praising children for their efforts in maintaining good dental habits can reinforce positive behavior. Consider using reward systems or creating a fun chart to track their progress. Positive reinforcement motivates children to continue practicing good habits, including brushing, flossing and choosing snacks wisely.

By teaching and reinforcing good dental habits consistently, parents set children up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

At ABC Children’s Dentistry, our team works with parents to provide children of all ages with good dental care.  Give us a call today to schedule your child’s first dental appointment!