As your child's first teeth start to come in, you begin to wonder about his or her dental hygiene. You mayeven wonder why your child's dental health is important, especially when his or her primary teeth will fallout anyway. Here, we'll answer some questions you may have about children's dental hygiene.

Why Is It Important?

There are many reasons why your child's dental hygiene is just important now as it will be when he or sheis older. Simply put, good dental hygiene prevents cavities. Cavities cause pain and can make it hard foryour child to chew his or her food. Cavities can also lead to more serious problems like tooth loss andinfection.

Another reason to care for primary teeth is that these teeth affect the health of the incoming adultteeth. In fact, the adult teeth's roots are already growing underneath the primary teeth.

Plus, teaching dental hygiene now helps your child develop healthy habits. If your child cares for his orher teeth as a child, he or she is more likely to do so as an adult.

When Should You Teach Dental Hygiene?

Your child should begin brushing and flossing at around age two. When your child is this young, he or shedoesn't have the dexterity to brush and floss well, so you'll need to do it for him or her. Use just a tinydrop of toothpaste on a kid-friendly toothbrush, and use child-appropriate dental floss or flossers.

When your child is about eight years old, teach him or her how to brush and floss on his or her own. Watchyour child at first to make sure he or she brushes every area of the mouth, including his or her gums andtongue. If your child struggles to floss with string floss, he or she might prefer flossing with picks orwater jets.

Since children can get cavities even at a young age, your child should first see a dentist by the time heor she turns a year old.

What Should You Teach?

Of course, brushing and flossing is an important part of dental hygiene. Teach your child to brush atleast twice a day and floss at least once a day.

Along with brushing and flossing, make sure you also teach your child about nutrition. Teach your littleone about the importance of choosing nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables. Help him or her understandthat even foods like crackers and fruit snacks contain sugar. You may also want to teach your child about howdrinks like soda and juice can harm his or her teeth. Help your child choose water instead of sugary drinksas often as possible.

Finally, teach your child about the importance of visiting the dentist twice a year. Tell your child thatthe dentist will look inside his or her mouth to make sure his or her teeth look healthy. Let him or her knowthat dental hygienists will clean his or her teeth to protect them from cavities. If your child is afraid tosee the dentist, use our tips.

How Can You Teach About Dental Hygiene?

Children don't always enjoy hearing about dental hygiene, so make your teaching as fun as possible. Forexample, you could buy your child a toothbrush decorated with his or her favorite characters. You could alsoplay a song while your child brushes his or her teeth and tell him or her to keep brushing until the song isover.

To teach about nutrition, cut out pictures of different foods from a grocery store ad. Cut out a pictureof a mouth and a picture of a garbage can. Ask your children to put the foods in the proper place-either themouth or the garbage can.



Follow these guidelines, and your child can learn the healthy dental habits that he or she will take intoadulthood.