A common regret of many adults is how they treated their oral health in their past. Many wish they’d taken better care of their teeth from an earlier age. This often comes as the result of dental issues they're facing, so it’s worth considering the role early oral hygiene plays.
As a parent, you’re in a good position to influence your child’s relationship with their dental health now. It’s not just about being able to prevent the need for invasive surgery in the future; it’s more about empowering your child to have the most positive quality of life they can.
It does, however, take some commitment on your part to ensure your child grasps and maintains these actions. Here’s a closer look at why it’s so important to help your child start oral hygiene habits early on.
It embeds hygiene into their routine
Starting oral hygiene habits young plays a vital role in making these efforts a core part of your child’s regular routine. Leaving the teaching of oral health until later makes it harder for everyone involved. Your child may be more likely to forget to brush or overlook other preventive actions as they get older. By prioritizing oral health early, you can slot it into their regular routine in a way that feels natural and easy to them.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends brushing lightly as soon as the teeth start to come in. As your child gets a little older, you can make these activities part of a whole-family process. The earlier they can see you taking care of your teeth, the more positive an impact it can have on their actions. The goal should be to embed oral health into their routine in such an integral way that it almost becomes an automatic part of their day.
It’s also worth implementing routines like talking about oral health. Discuss how their teeth and gums are feeling and talk about your own oral well-being. This helps them pay better attention and notice when any subtle changes such as cavities so they can be addressed early on.
It informs responsible decision-making
Encouraging oral hygiene habits early doesn’t just make it easy for your kids to attend to the basics; it’s also a valuable opportunity to provide them with knowledge. Talking about oral health shouldn’t just be focused on brushing teeth, after all. It also extends to discussing the types of food that can lead to damage and why tools such as floss or mouthwash can be utilized to counteract issues. Teaching your kids about these elements early better prepares them for making better-informed decisions.
This is particularly important once they start to spend more time away from the family home. For instance, at school, they’ll often be faced with decisions between healthy and less healthy snacks. Instilling healthy habits early on at home empowers your kids to make better choices when they’re away from you. In fact, providing them with the option to take good snacks to school with them can be a helpful part of their ongoing routine. However, the knowledge they’ve gained from their good oral hygiene habits can also ensure they take effective action after eating sugary snacks, too.
It promotes prevention rather than treatment
Over the years, there have been some significant advances in dental treatment. However, it’s always better to take preventive action rather than to address a problem after it’s already happened. Starting oral hygiene habits early with your children promotes a proactive approach to their teeth and gums.
This means that the tools to keep their mouth healthy are already in place without dental care intervention. That said, regular appointments with medical professionals are an important part of preventive care. Professionals can help assess where potential problem areas may develop in the future and provide patients with expert advice on actions they can take at home.
Make visits to the dentist a part of your child’s routine. It can help get them comfortable with the professional’s role in their wellness. Encourage your child to talk to their dentist. Developing these positive relationships is likely to help them maintain good preventive habits as they get older, too.
Perhaps most important, this preventive approach helps bolster their overall wellness. Oral hygiene can impact various areas of health, including mental wellness and heart conditions. By implementing these habits early on, you’re providing your child with the tools to maintain a healthier disposition in the long term.