Instilling good oral hygiene habits in your children when they are young greatly increases the chances that those habits will stay with them for the rest of their lives. There is also value in preventing tooth decay when they are young. If your child develops a large cavity in a primary tooth, it might need to be extracted. This will increase the chances of the child developing alignment issues when the permanent teeth emerge years later.
Most children see their first teeth emerge from the gums around five months of age. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush and floss your child’s teeth as soon as they emerge. As time goes on and their motor skills develop, children can even start to brush their own teeth. This can be done in a two-stage process: They can practice brushing back and forth, and then you follow up with a thorough brushing to make sure all the surfaces are cleaned.
You may need to use your pinky fingers to floss the child’s molars and other hard-to-reach teeth. As your child’s motor dexterity improves, he or she can start flossing independently or with a floss stick.
It’s a good idea to keep oral hygiene routine fun. Children shouldn’t see it as a chore or a punishment. Brushing and flossing your own teeth right beside them also sets a good example for them to follow. Awarding gold stars or other forms of encouragement for a good job, gives children a sense of pride and creates a positive association.
If you have questions about how or when to introduce your child to flossing, please feel free to call us at 541-773-4073 or ask about it at your next appointment.