Even as adults, we know how hard it can be to brush teeth. Getting kids to brush their teeth can be even more of a struggle, as all parents soon learn. But before you start struggling with your kids, here’s some important information and milestones you need to know before they start brushing.
Even before your kids are born, their body is using the nutrients you (if you are a mother) eat and turning these nutrients into—well, into teeth (1). These little teeth will pop up about 6 months after birth and continue popping up until about the 3rd year (1). These are your kid’s first teeth — or more commonly called — primary teeth.
Between the ages of 6 to 11, your kid will start losing and continue losing these teeth. They get replaced by “permanent” teeth.
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When Should You Start Dental Care & Oral Hygiene
Dental care and hygiene should really start soon after birth. It’s important when seeing a pediatric dentist that you are honest about your own dental history, and depending on your dental history, they will explain to you just what you should do.
For example, if you, as a parent, have poor dental health, they will ask to see your child more frequently to make sure that their teeth and gum health won’t become a future issue.
But before all of that, let’s go a little more in detail into dental milestones.
You want to make sure that you start teaching and administering proper oral hygiene before your child starts getting permanent teeth (1). Starting proper hygiene will help ensure that when your child does begin to develop permanent teeth, they will treat their teeth with proper care and they will be less likely to develop future dental issues, such as cavities.
Remember this, brushing teeth prevents tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and is helpful in developing sensory oral skills (3).
Start by brushing your child’s teeth and cleaning their gums with a gauze or a cloth. With the help of an adult, kids can start brushing their teeth around age 2 to 3. Work your child up to brushing their own teeth, which is usually around the age of 6; when your kid can tie his own shoes, is when he can brush his own teeth (2).
Visiting the Dentist
It’s important to visit your dentist about every 6 months to make sure your child’s teeth are healthy. At around age 1 is when your kid should have their first dental visit. After that, it should be consistent (3).
In fact, there’s good economic reason as to why you should visit the dentist more frequently.
According to the CDC, Starting routine visits to the dentist for 5 years decreases how much you’re likely to spend in the next 5 years on dental care (3). This is a huge amount of savings. It proves that taking preventive health measures can save money in the long run.
According to WebMD, here are some key milestones your children will reach when it comes to dental development:
Between these ages, teeth have yet to start showing. They’re slowly forming within the gums. Be sure to continue feeding your child the best, healthiest nutrients so their body can make strong teeth.
6 months—6 years-old:
Between these ages, primary teeth will grow. These teeth will not be permanent, but it is at this stage that you should start practicing oral hygiene.
Between this age, primary teeth fall out and permanent teeth start sprouting up.
Be sure to frequently visit dentists to make sure that your child is brushing properly. At around 6, as I said, after your child starts tying his shoes, you can start having him brush his own teeth (2).
Between these ages, this is when the last primary teeth go and the last permanent teeth come out. Be sure to stress oral hygiene with your kids, ensuring they are brushing and visiting the dentist frequently.
So as you can see, these are the milestone for teeth and teeth brushing. You want to make sure your kid understands the importance of good tooth health. There are plenty of reasons why you should be getting your kids to start brushing their teeth, good teeth mean good health, no cavities, and no future gum disease.
Potential Health Risks
It is important that you stress the reason you have your children brush their teeth. Don’t scare them into doing it, but inform them of why they should.
There are plenty of ways to motivate kids into brushing. Here are a few medical conditions related to poor brushing or no brushing at all according to Business Insider:
Cavities: this is a decaying, rotting part of a tooth, usually due to poor oral hygiene and poor diets high in sugar and other harmful substances. This is one of the more common tooth-related health issues, along with bad breath.
Gum disease: If you don’t floss enough or brush your teeth enough, there’s a buildup of plaque that can form between your teeth and your gums. This build up can make your gums swollen, red and very sensitive. This can lead to your gums and teeth breaking down.
Tooth Loss: Without proper brushing or oral hygiene, it is possible that your kids could be on the path to tooth decay, starting at cavities and working to tooth loss.
Bad Breath: Medically called halitosis, this affects about 65% of Americans. If you don’t have your child brushing their teeth regularly, they may develop bad breath, which is the breakdown of food particles in the mouth that haven’t been either cleaned or are lodged in between teeth (which is why flossing is good).
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should get your child into the habit of brushing. There’s also plenty of reasons why you should try and decrease sugar intake and have your kids eat healthier foods that are good for their teeth, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits; and drink healthier drinks that are good for teeth, such as milk (1).
How to Get Kids to Brush
It can be hard to get your kids to brush their teeth, but there are ways to without getting into a scuffle or a snafu.
- First, try and talk to your children about the importance of brushing their teeth. This will hopefully make them become aware of why they should do something.
- Let your child pick the toothpaste. You want your child to take part in all aspects of brushing. Giving them the choice in what toothpaste they want will get them more excited to brush their teeth.
- You want to motivate your child to brush their teeth. Kid’s learn by example. So start by brushing your teeth with them. Show them the proper brushing techniques, but make it a fun game. Brush with them and you’re sure to ensure that they’re brushing and brushing correctly.
Remember, your child will eventually learn the importance of tooth brushing if they haven’t already. When it comes to brushing teeth, it’s by example. So start brushing with your kids and you’ll see significant improvements in their pearly smiles.
WebMD: Basic Dental Care: Infants and Children
Parents: When Can My Child Brush His Own Teeth?
WebMD: 8 Ways to Protect Your Child’s Teeth
Business Insider: 13 Awful Things That Happen If You Don’t Brush And Floss Your Teeth