Is it really harder to get your children to brush or floss their teeth than to do homework? Yes, according to respondents of a recent Delta Dental survey. Forty-five percent ranked getting a child to floss as their most challenging parental chore, ahead of brushing (cited by 37 percent), making the bed (30 percent) and finishing homework on time (25 percent).

When it comes to math homework, you’re on your own! But our Montgomery, AL dentists have some tips for improving your child’s oral hygiene. If you have any questions about our tips or any other aspect of your family’s dental care, call Carmichael Dental Care at 334-600-1423.

Get an Early Start on Your Child’s Oral Hygiene

You should start cleaning your child’s mouth even before they get teeth. After feedings (bottle or breast) use a soft washcloth to clean their gums, using water only. When teeth appear, clean them with a baby toothbrush and non-fluoridated toothpaste. A tiny drop of paste (no larger than the size of a pea) is all you’ll need.

When They Get Older, Model Proper Brushing Behavior

When your child turns 2, you can introduce toothpaste with fluoride in it. Brush your teeth together. That way, you can supervise your child to make sure they’re actually brushing and flossing. You can also model good brushing technique for them. Make suggestions to help them, keeping it as entertaining as possible. For example, you might say, “Smile really, really big so you can brush your front teeth” while making an exaggerated grinning face.

You should inspect your children’s teeth when they’re done to make sure they’ve done a good job. Until they reach the age of 6 or so, it’s a good idea for you to brush their teeth again so you can make sure all of the surfaces are clean.

Some more tips for improving your child’s oral hygiene:

  • Let your child pick their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Flavored paste and brushes with their favorite cartoon character are usually a big hit.
  • To make sure they brush for two full minutes, play a favorite song or “race” against a timer.
  • Establish a routine and stick to it. For example, brush and floss right after breakfast and right before bed.

Make Good Dietary Habits Part of Your Child’s Oral Hygiene

It’s important to support your child’s brushing and flossing habits with good dietary choices. Most important, limit the amount of sugary drinks and snacks they consume. And here are some other tips for minimizing the adverse effects of these treats:

  • Because dairy acts as a buffer to the damaging acids produced by bacteria in your child’s mouth, serve them milk or cheese with sugary treats.
  • Because hard candy can get stuck between children’s teeth, make sure they are flossing regularly.
  • During holidays like Halloween and Easter, give them only a few treats at a time and store extras where they can’t get to them.
  • Encourage children to drink more water, especially after having a sugary treat. If you serve bottled water, consider buying one with added fluoride.

Bring Your Child for Regular Dental Exams

Don’t miss your child’s regular dental exams. We recommend visiting our Montgomery, AL office every six months for an exam and cleaning. We’ll remove plaque from their teeth they’ve missed at home, so there is less of a chance of it hardening into tartar and causing cavities. We may also recommend preventive treatments like applications of fluoride and/or dental sealants.

To schedule your child’s next exam, call Carmichael Dental Care at 334-600-1423.