Importance of Childhood Oral Hygiene & the Role of Parents

Every parent wants their child to grow up with healthy teeth and an attractive smile. Poor dietary habits and poor oral care during the first two years of life increase the risk of tooth decay in baby teeth and permanent teeth when they arrive.

It’s essential to begin a proper oral care routine while your child is very young, and parents need to make sure they are good role models. Toothbrushing should become a routine twice-daily event that is non-negotiable, and children learn by imitating their parents. Some parents believe that primary teeth are not very important, but they are critical for good dental development.

Why It’s Important to Take Care of Primary Teeth

Primary or milk teeth begin erupting around six months, and most children will have a complete set of 20 primary teeth by age 2 ½ to 3 years. These milk teeth are covered with a weaker layer of tooth enamel than permanent ones, so they are more susceptible to tooth decay. It’s extremely important to take care of primary teeth because they help your child learn to talk clearly and are essential to chew food properly, allowing them to enjoy good nutrition. Additionally, primary teeth are placeholders for adult teeth and are meant to remain in place until the adult teeth are ready to erupt. If they are lost too soon through tooth decay, there is a real risk that the adult teeth are more likely to come through crooked and require orthodontic treatment.

As a parent, you need to ensure your child understands the importance of toothbrushing and flossing from an early age, and you will need to clean their teeth for them. They begin getting their permanent teeth around age six onwards.

Permanent Teeth

As permanent teeth get ready to come through, the tooth roots of primary teeth are gradually resorbed, so these teeth loosen until they are ready to fall out. When permanent teeth come through, they need equally good dental care. At this stage, the permanent teeth are more likely to be tightly packed, so it’s important to ensure you clean interdentally between each tooth. The contact areas between each tooth are prone to decay and can easily trap plaque and food debris, increasing the risk of gum disease.

Your Role in Taking Care of Your Kid’s Teeth

As permanent teeth come in, your child is more likely to want to begin brushing their teeth on their own as they start to grow up and become more independent. However, you will need to supervise toothbrushing carefully, and it can be a good idea to brush your teeth alongside them so they can copy your techniques. You may need to re-brush their teeth afterwards, and it can be helpful to guide their hand while you re-brush these teeth so they can feel how you do it properly. When it comes to flossing teeth, you will need to floss your child’s teeth for them until they develop enough dexterity to complete this task independently.