Why It’s Important for Kids to Get Started Early Caring for Their Teeth
Why It's Important for Kids to Get Started Early Caring for Their Teeth

Starting good oral care when your child is at an early age is essential for the long-term health of their teeth. As a parent, you can teach your child how to brush and floss just by taking some key steps.  

Why Brushing Baby Teeth Is Important

A healthy smile early on leads to a healthier smile later. Since baby teeth are going to fall out anyway, you may think there’s no need to worry about a little cavity or two. But whether a cavity develops in baby teeth, adolescent teeth or adult teeth, they are expensive and painful to fill.

Cavities in baby teeth also can have long-term effects on the oral health and well-being of your child. Think of baby teeth as “space-holders” for future adult teeth to come in. If your little one has unhealthy baby teeth, it could lead the way to unhealthy adult teeth as well.

To avoid your child’s adult teeth growing in crooked and out of alignment, you have to ensure they have a well-cared-for tooth growth site and gums. Your child’s first adult teeth, particularly their molars, can impact your child’s face shape along with the future position and health of their other adult teeth.

And you know what having crooked teeth means — braces. While many parents end up bringing their child to the orthodontist’s office at some point, by keeping your kid’s gums and teeth healthy early on, you can help avoid the hassle, pain and cost of braces.

How Brushing Prevents Cavities and Infections

Early childhood dental caries, or tooth decay, is a common childhood infectious disease that may become chronic. You should begin healthy oral hygiene habits early in your child’s life since your child can develop tooth decay as soon as their first tooth.

When acid-producing bacteria infect your baby’s mouth, your child may develop tooth decay. You can also pass along these bacteria through your saliva to your baby. For example, sharing saliva on cups or spoons, cleaning your baby’s pacifier with your mouth or testing foods before you feed them to your baby can all spread these bacteria.

To keep your child’s gums and teeth free of tooth decay, give them water more often during the day — instead of other sugary liquids. For example, some foods and drinks have added or natural sugars in them, changing the acid in the mouth by bacteria. This acid then begins dissolving the outer part of your child’s teeth and causes them to decay. Water, on the other hand, doesn’t contain these sugars and therefore doesn’t cause decay.

A common way bacteria and acid occur in your child’s mouth is when you put them to bed with:

  • Milk
  • A formula bottle
  • Juice
  • Sugar water
  • Soda or other soft drinks
  • Sugary drinks

This may also happen when you allow your child to drink these types of drinks throughout the day from a bottle or sippy cup instead of water.

You can consider only serving milk with meals and not exclusively for nap time, bedtime or throughout the day. If you breastfeed, you should still follow good oral hygiene, employ preventive dental care and eat a healthy diet despite knowing breastfeeding by itself doesn’t cause tooth decay.

Knowing tooth decay signs in your baby is important too. If your baby has tooth decay, they may first have white spots on their upper front teeth along their gum line. You might not know about these spots unless your child’s dentist spots it using the right dental equipment.

Tips to Teach Your Child How to Brush Their Teeth

To stop the spread of tooth decay and prevent any further damage, your child should be seen by a dentist and treated early. So, are you asking yourself, “How do I teach my kids to brush their teeth?”

Here are some examples of the teeth-brushing steps you should take:

  • Hold the toothbrush against the gum line and gently at a 45-degree angle.
  • Brush each tooth each brushing session.
  • Start at the tooth’s base and brush to the chewing surface.
  • Brush the chewing surfaces using short, sweeping motions.
  • Brush the roof of your child’s mouth and tongue from back to front.

In a study with kids aged six months to five years, the main oral health tasks for the kids involved using fluoride dentifrice — powder or paste to clean teeth — and tooth brushing. The fluoridated dentifrice is an essential factor in reducing the caries lesion rates in kids. By the end of the study, by the time the children turned two years old, they were brushing consistently with the dentifrice. Their mothers were their most significant influence.