Posted on June 17, 2024

The Importance of Daily Oral Care

Girl brushes teeth PCI Pediatrics article about daily oral health for children.

Daily oral care is crucial for preventing cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems. Poor dental hygiene can lead to pain, infections, and issues with eating, speaking, and learning. Establishing a routine of brushing and flossing not only keeps teeth and gums healthy but also instills lifelong habits that contribute to overall well-being.

Regular dental check-ups are a critical component of maintaining oral health. These exams allow the dentist to monitor the development of your child’s teeth, catch any problems early, and provide professional cleanings that are more thorough than what can be achieved at home. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit the dentist by their first birthday (or 6 months after tooth eruption) and continue with regular check-ups every six months.

Tips for Toddlers (Ages 1-3)

  • Start Early: Begin cleaning your baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth even before teeth appear. Once the first tooth erupts, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use Fluoride Toothpaste: As soon as teeth erupt, use a grain of rice amount of tooth paste to brush twice per day.  At age 3, increase the amount to a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Make it Fun: Use toothbrushes with your child’s favorite characters and play fun songs or videos about brushing to make the experience enjoyable.
  • Supervise Brushing: Until your child can brush effectively on their own (usually around age 8) supervise and assist with brushing to ensure all surfaces are cleaned.
  • Healthy Eating Habits: Avoid juice, frequent snacking, sticky foods like gummies and fruits snacks as these all increase the risk of cavities.

Tips for Young Children (Ages 4-7)

  • Establish a Routine: Set a regular time for brushing in the morning and before bed. Consistency helps make brushing a natural part of the day.
  • Teach Proper Technique: Show your child how to brush using gentle, circular motions on all surfaces of the teeth and along the gumline.
  • Use a Timer: Brushing for two minutes can seem long to a child. Use a timer or play a two-minute song to help them brush for the recommended time.
  • Flossing: Introduce flossing when your child’s teeth begin to touch. Flossers designed for kids can make this task easier.

Tips for Older Children (Ages 8-12)

  • Encourage Independence: Allow your child to take more responsibility for their oral care but continue to check that they are doing a thorough job.
  • Healthy Eating Habits: Teach your child about the impact of sugary snacks and drinks on their teeth and encourage healthy eating habits.
  • Regular Dental Visits: Maintain regular dental check-ups and cleanings to monitor growth and address any issues.
  • Use Mouthwash: If recommended by your dentist, introduce an alcohol-free mouthwash to help reduce plaque and prevent cavities.

Tips for Teens (Ages 13-18)

  • Reinforce Good Habits: Teenagers can often become lax with their oral hygiene. Remind them of the importance of maintaining their routine to avoid issues like cavities and gum disease.
  • Orthodontic Care: If your teen has braces or other orthodontic appliances, ensure they follow specific cleaning instructions to maintain oral health.
  • Limit Harmful Habits: Discourage smoking, vaping, and excessive consumption of sugary drinks, all of which can have serious effects on oral health.
  • Keep Dental Appointments: Stress the importance of continuing regular dental check-ups, especially during the busy and often stressful teenage years.

At PCI Pediatrics, we understand that fostering good oral hygiene habits in children is a collaborative effort between parents, children, and healthcare providers. By incorporating these tips and emphasizing the importance of daily oral care and regular dental exams, you can help your child maintain a healthy, beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime. Remember, a proactive approach to dental health is an investment in your child’s overall health and well-being.

For more personalized advice, feel free to contact us at PCI Pediatrics by calling (319) 247-3820 or scheduling online. Together, we can ensure that your child’s smile stays bright and healthy!

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