Dental care is a vital consideration for all children, and as a family dentist serving Salt Lake City for years, we at Walker Pediatric Dentistry know how important it is to you and your family. Anything but top notch dental care early in life can lead to myriad complications down the line, and in many cases a real hit to quality of life and comfort as your child grows up.
Selecting and maintaining a respected and professional pediatric dentist is a big part of the equation, but many parents often overlook how vital their own role is in providing dental care for their child. Without proper parental involvement, even the best dentists on earth won’t be able to keep issues from arising. What are some of the things you need to be doing to help promote tooth health for your children?
For the first few years of your child’s life, virtually all of their dental care will fall on your shoulders. You’ll have to brush their own teeth for at least the first two years, sometimes well into the third – most kids reach an age right around this time where they want to take on this responsibility themselves. Teeth should be brushed twice a day from the moment the first tooth enters the mouth. Watch out for things like dripping and swallowing of toothpaste.
Once your children have taken an interest in brushing their own teeth, your role becomes more of a supervisory and complementary one. You’ll still do some brushing in most cases – especially early on, your children probably won’t be strong enough to effectively brush the entire mouth effectively. You’ll also want to supervise the amount of toothpaste being used.
There will be times where brushing feels like a chore during these ages, and the best approach tends to be playful motivation – kids this age typically aren’t defiant for these tasks yet, and they can be goaded fairly easily into brushing.
Around the age of 6 or 7, most kids will have the strength and dexterity to do their full brush without any of your help. However, these are the ages where “chores” like tooth brushing become a tougher ask in many cases, and your presence will still be required frequently to make sure that brushing – without any shortcuts – is taking place as often as it needs to. Your kids will still have teeth growing in during these ages, and they may need your help with brushing in a few specific situations.
After age 12, barring specific behavioral issues, most teens should be capable of performing the entire process on their own. Some may need additional motivation, though the social pressures of bad teeth and bad breath (plus reinforcement from your dentist) will often shame them enough on their own. It’s still wise to check for items like worn toothbrushes or low supplies of floss, but by now, if your child is unable to brush their own teeth without your help, it might be time to talk to your dentist.
At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, we know how important your children’s dentist is – even for guidance with these at-home practices. Our friendly staff is standing by to answer all your questions today.