Dental Hygiene Tips and Tricks

Your children’s oral hygiene is very important to their overall health and should be taken seriously. With the growing popularity of sugary drinks, candy and other sugar-filled items, it is no surprise that one out of ten 2-year-olds have one or more cavities, and by age 5, nearly 50% of children have had one or more cavities.

So what can you do to keep your child smiling from ear to ear? Take a look at our tips and tricks:

Tip: Teach Proper Brushing and Flossing

Show your children proper brushing techniques, and supervise him and her while they get the hang of it. Use a small smear of fluoride toothpaste until age three and then transition to a pea-sized amount. Put the toothpaste on a child-sized brush, and try to teach your child not to swallow, but rather spit, the toothpaste. Encourage your child to brush in the morning and before bed, and be sure they clean the front and inside of the teeth.

Don’t forget to teach your child to floss as well. Cleaning in between the teeth is extremely important for overall tooth and gum health. There are many other oral health products on the market, but keep in mind that fluoride rinses are not recommended until after age six.

Trick: Set a Timer

To make sure children are brushing for an efficient amount of time, encourage them to hum their ABCs two-times through or set a two-minute timer. There are also toothbrushes on the market that have built-in songs to encourage a full two-minute brushing.

Tip: Monitor Diets

Exposing your child to too much sugar can cause tooth and gum problems. Sticky sugar that is left in the mouth for a long period of time, such as caramel and gum, can cause a lot of damage. The same goes for sugary drinks. Make sure your child is drinking plenty of water, or consider adding water to sports drinks to cut down on sugar. And of course, your child should never have sugary drinks in bed.

Trick: Brush, Book, Bed

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you start a routine with your children at a young age so that brushing becomes a part of the nighttime ritual. This routine is: Brush, Book, Bed.

  1. Have your children brush their teeth.
  2. Read a book with them.
  3. Get to bed at a regular time.

Most importantly, your child should see a dentist every 6 months. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry say that the first dental visit should occur within six months after the baby's first tooth appears, but no later than the child's first birthday. Your UPMC Children's Community Pediatrics pediatrician can make recommendations for dentists in your area, and many of our locations host dental clinics throughout the year.