Teaching Proper Oral Hygiene Habits
from a Young Age
Proper hygiene habits and education on oral health for kids are fundamental components of your child’s overall health.
When you stop and think about it, the mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria and the entry point to the body’s digestive and respiratory tracts. Proper oral health for kids can play a critical role in keeping bacteria levels healthy and preventing oral infections, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Our pediatric dentist and caring staff can offer you dental health care tips for the entire family. We want to help teach your family healthy oral care habits for kids. This includes protecting your child’s teeth and mouth by getting them to wear a custom sports mouth guard during sports.
We’ll point out specific ways you can improve your kids’ oral health routines and take care of any oral health issues as they arise. Healthy teeth and gums will also promote a healthy and happy smile!
We also offer 24-hr dental emergency services. To book a dental appointment…
Please call us anytime at
905-476-2800 or click below
Tips on Oral Health for Kids by Age
Stage 1: Oral Health for Infants 4 – 24 Months
It is important to get into a regular habit of cleaning your baby’s mouth and gums with a damp washcloth after all feedings at an early age. As soon as you celebrate your baby popping their first tooth, you should start brushing. To clean your child’s tooth (and following teeth) use a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should also use a small pea-sized portion of non-fluoridated toothpaste for younger children.
It’s important to book your baby’s first visit to the dentist within six months of their first tooth or by their first birthday, as recommended by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). After this first visit, regular six-month check ups will help ensure proper tooth development and oral health for your child.
For additional information about baby teeth, see our blog post called Baby Teeth Chart.
Stage 2: Oral Health for Kids 2 – 4 Years Old
By the age of two your child can start using fluoridated toothpaste. This will help prevent tooth decay. As they become more independent you should encourage your child to brush their teeth on their own and assist at the end to make sure their mouth is properly cleaned. There are a number of ways to make oral health for kids fun.
For instance, when brushing their teeth:
- Let them pick out their own toothbrush or flavour of child’s toothpaste.
- Choose a teeth brushing song (one that is at least two minutes long to promote proper length of brushing).
- Include a fun activity that happens after they brush their teeth.
- You can even brush your teeth at the same time as your child to help set a good example.
Stage 3: Oral Health Care for Kids 5 – 7 Years Old
Continue supervising your child as they brush their teeth. The dexterity required to brush teeth independently often only comes around 7 years of age. If you haven’t already, make brushing and flossing part of their regular morning and nighttime routine. At this age children can start to lose their baby teeth and get their permanent molars and adult teeth, which makes oral health for kids at home even more important.
Stage 4: Oral Health Care Tips for Kids 8+ Years Old
By this time your child is fairly independent and likely able to remember to brush and floss their teeth on their own but may need reminders. Supervise your child every now and again to make sure they are taking the proper time and care to brush and floss properly. You can also encourage healthy foods and minimize the consumption of sugary and acidic foods, which are hard on the teeth.
How To Brush Your Child’s Teeth
At your child’s dentist appointment our hygienist can help teach both you and your child proper children’s oral care techniques. This may include the best way to brush the teeth and how to identify any problem areas that you need to focus on.
These tips for brushing teeth can include:
- Holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Setting a timer for two minutes to make sure the process isn’t rushed.
- Making sure the surface of each tooth is brushed.
- Paying special attention to the surface of molars and behind the top and bottom front teeth which are prone to tartar build up and food debris. (See our page on Dental Sealants to learn more about how to better protect molars.)
If you (the parent) are brushing your child’s teeth, make sure that you brush every tooth in their mouth. Depending on your child’s age and preference you can lay them on their back, sit them in your lap, or stand behind them to brush their teeth.
Proper Flossing Techniques for Kids
It can be hard for a young child to learn how to properly floss their teeth. It’s more than just putting the floss between each tooth and pulling it out. Your child should use the floss to form a C around each tooth, creating a back and forth motion. Be sure to move up and down the side of each tooth. Consider buying floss picks to make it easier for your kids to floss, particularly between back molars, which can be hard to reach.
Additional Tips on Oral Health for Kids
- Remember that the typical minty toothpaste we use as adults can taste spicy to a child. Allow your child to pick out their favourite flavour of kid’s toothpaste such as bubble gum flavour.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every 6 months, or sooner if bristles are worn or your child has been sick.
- Ensure that your child eats a healthy diet and try to limit sugar intake.
- Teach your child the importance of abstaining from tobacco products.
- Pay special attention to your child’s oral health if they have diabetes (which puts their gums at risk), or if they are taking a medication known to reduce saliva flow.
- Schedule a regular dental checkup and cleaning every six months, or as recommended by your dentist.
With proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits, together we can minimize or eliminate the need for tooth extractions.
Kids & Parents Love Our Office!
- Funfilled Kids Arcade Zone
- Free Prize Room
- Complimentary Ice Cream Freezer
- No Charge Spa Services for Parents
- Ceiling Mounted TVs
- Specialized Equipment
- Dedicated Surgical Suite with Recovery Room
Book an Appointment with Keswick Kids Dental
Your child’s oral health and teaching proper mouth hygiene to kids are our top priorities! An important part of keeping a healthy smile is regular checkups and cleanings by a pediatric dentist.
If you still have questions about oral health for kids, please contact us.
Or click below to book a dental appointment online.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is oral care?
Oral care is part of preventative dentistry that promotes proper dental hygiene to keep your mouth clean and disease-free and ensure strong healthy teeth and gums for life.
Why is oral care important?
Good oral care will ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy for life. Studies show that good oral hygiene is preventative care and directly related to your overall health. It helps to prevent certain types of illnesses and diseases including heart disease and diabetes.
What is the best oral care routine?
As a general overall oral care routine, dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and having a dental checkup and cleaning at least twice a year. For optimum oral health, eat only healthy foods and avoid junk foods with high sugar content.
How often should oral care be performed?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends regular annual or semi-annual dental exams and teeth cleaning, plus daily brushing and flossing and good nutrition to help build strong bones, gums, and teeth.
What are the signs of poor oral hygiene?
Poor oral hygiene can lead to numerous health problems including, among others, gingivitis, cavities, open mouth sores, chronic bad breath, gum recession, and bleeding gums.