Establishing good oral hygiene habits should start when your child is an infant. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry actually recommends bringing your child for their first dental appointment when they get their first tooth or no later than the child’s first birthday. This may seem a bit premature, but when it comes to your child’s oral health, the sooner the better!
The first dental visit should be designed to introduce your child to their dentist at an early age, helping to establish a rapport and to begin building a non-threatening, trusted relationship. A dentist should gently and carefully examine your child’s mouth so they get used to the dentist poking around in there. This “exam” will allow the dentist to look for any signs of potential or existing dental problems. Believe it or not, even if your child is young a dentist / hygienist should talk them about proper brushing, flossing and fluoride helping them to establish good dental hygiene habits from the very start! If your child has teeth, you should start using toothpaste! Of course at this young age, you will have to brush their teeth and you should do so twice a day. Just like older children, teens and adults, a dental checkup every six months is recommended for our young patients.
It is important to help your child maintain healthy baby teeth. These teeth will help your child to learn to speak clearly, chew properly and baby teeth form a vital path for permanent teeth. Thumb sucking and pacifier habits should be prevented if possible. If your child is three or older and still sucking, a mouth appliance may be something your dentist recommends to help stop the bad habit.
Helping your child develop good dental hygiene habits really starts at home. Make a focused effort to help them get started on the right track by brushing and flossing daily and maintaining regular six month checkups at an early age.