Why you should teach kids oral hygiene at an early age

babies brushing teeth

Kids oral hygiene starts at an early stage and what you learn as a kid will follow you through your adult life.

Learning to brush your teeth at an early age not only wards off tooth decay and gum disease, but it instils a sense of duty and an understanding that your teeth are your responsibility.

Brushing from an early age also starts a routine which creates a habit as you get older, meaning you brush your teeth without thinking about it.

Baby teeth and when to start brushing

Baby teeth typically arrive around 6-8 months, but some can come in as early as 4 months, or as late as a year.

It takes around 3 years for a full set to appear, and then by the time we hit 12 or 13 they’ve all been replaced by our permanent teeth.

So if baby teeth are going to fall out anyway in a few years, what’s the point of cleaning them?

Well, our baby teeth are not only good practice for our permanent teeth, but they also act as their guides. Our second set of teeth may not have the room to come in, or may come in crooked if our baby teeth are decayed or lost early.

Baby teeth which are not looked after properly may also cause infection, pain, and discomfort, and even problems eating and speaking in those formative years.

Establishing good kid’s oral hygiene starts at an early age, and even before a first tooth appears, you should be getting into the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums with a soft cloth or gauze and water. This won’t hurt your child, and may even relieve pain from teething.

Brushing should begin as soon as the first tooth appears.

Baby teeth

Australia – start teaching your kids oral hygiene

Here in Australia we don’t have the most glistening record when it comes to dental care in children.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 55% of six-year-olds in Australia have decay in their baby teeth, with half of 12-year-olds having decay in their permanent teeth.

These statistics prove how essential it is to start teaching your kids good oral hygiene right from the start. As soon as that first tooth appears, it’s time to brush!

Set up a routine of twice daily brushing, preferably after breakfast and before bedtime. Special child toothbrushes are available, and until your child is old enough to rinse and spit, don’t use toothpaste.

Once a child reaches the age of around 3, it’s time to pass the reins over to them.

Let them brush their own teeth (with your supervision of course), showing them where they are going wrong and how to do it properly.

This should be the plan until your child is around 7 years old, and by then they should have developed a good habit of looking after their teeth.

How to brush your kid’s teeth correctly

If your child’s teeth arrive early, they might not be able to even stand up yet before you start a brushing routine. If that’s the case, sit them on your lap, facing away from you and support them with your arm while you brush. Once a bit older, you can stand behind while brushing their teeth.

When brushing, always use a soft-bristled, child-sized brush, and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Angle the toothbrush at 45 degrees towards the teeth and gums, and brush one to two teeth at a time using a gentle, circular motion.

Make sure you clean every tooth, and pay close attention in particular to the area where the teeth and gum meet, as this is where plaque likes to build. To finish off, give their tongue a quick once over to get rid of any bacteria on the surface. This is basic kid’s oral hygiene.

Mother teaching kids oral hygiene

Start brushing teeth at a young age for happy, healthy teeth

Good oral hygiene is essential for everyone, and the sooner you start, the healthier and happier your children’s teeth will be in the long run.

Teach children that brushing their teeth doesn’t have to be a chore. Have some fun with them and encourage them to brush for the correct amount of time by setting a timer, or playing their favourite song.

Getting your kids into a solid routine of brushing their teeth twice a day will set them up for a lifetime of bright smiles and bolstered confidence.

If you have any questions about kids oral hygiene, or any type of dental procedures, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Sydney Dental Aesthetics and Implants.