A strong oral hygiene routine is essential at any age. Studies have shown that oral health is directly connected to overall health and wellness. This is why establishing a good oral health practice is highly important. In most cases, children have approximately 20 primary teeth, which are eventually replaced with 32 permanent teeth as the child grows. Permanent teeth usually begin to emerge between the ages of 6 and 7, but teaching your child to effectively care for their teeth and gums at a young age sets them up for healthy teeth and gums into adulthood.  

Read on to learn more about how to keep your child’s gums healthy throughout childhood and into their adult years.  

Caring for your Child’s Teeth & Gums 

Parents of babies and young children are often unsure about when they should start caring for their child’s teeth and gums, what products are safe to use and how often they should be seeing a dentist. The following tips are meant for children between 9 months and 3 years old. If your baby sprouts their first tooth before the age of 9 months, these tips apply to your child as well.  

First Teeth: It is recommended that you make an appointment with your dentist as soon as your child sprouts their first teeth. If your child hasn’t sprouted any teeth by their first birthday, take your child to see your dentist to ensure that there isn’t anything wrong. 

Drinking: It is important to begin teaching your child to drink from a cup around six months of age. You should also avoid giving your child a bottle of milk, formula or juice at bedtime. 

Health and Nutrition: Eating a nutritious and healthy diet full of variety is one of the best methods to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy. It is important to avoid introducing sweets, starchy foods, and overly chewy or sticky foods and drinks to your child’s diet. These foods can result in tooth decay and eventually lead to the development of gum disease. 

Model Good Habits: Leading by example through modeling good oral healthcare habits is essential. Ensure you are consistently brushing your own teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste, floss at least once daily, and see your dentist regularly. When your child sees you practice these habits every day, they too will want to participate.  

Flossing is Vital: Because establishing a strong tooth brushing routine can often be difficult enough when it comes to children, flossing often gets overlooked. Teaching your child the importance of flossing at a young age is highly important. While brushing is highly important, flossing specifically targets the gum tissue, ensuring that no harmful bacteria or debris is left below the gumline or between the teeth. Often creating a game around flossing or making it a family-wide activity can offer your child encouragement.  

The Importance of Gum Health in Children 

Good oral health directly correlates with good oral health and wellness in children. Healthy primary teeth and gums in the early years helps your child eat and speak well as they develop and grow. In addition, strong teeth and gums help the face to take shape properly and ensure adequate spacing for adult teeth to slide into place when the time comes.  

Avoiding dental and gum disease is also of paramount importance when it comes to ensuring your child is as healthy as possible. Dental disease is among the most common of childhood diseases, and is easily prevented through proper oral health care. Studies have shown that there is a significant connection between good oral health in childhood leading to better and healthier outcomes in adulthood. Implementing a good oral hygiene practice early in your child’s life sets them up for healthy teeth and gums in later years. 

The Bottom Line  

Your dentist can help you establish the best oral health and hygiene practices for your family. The sooner you establish these habits and routines, the better your child’s oral health will be. Brushing twice daily, flossing once per day and visiting your dentist regularly for routine checkups and cleanings will go a long way towards ensuring the long term health of your child’s teeth and gums.  

If you want to learn more about caring for your child’s teeth and gums, or to book an appointment, contact our Guelph dentist’s office today!

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