As parents and guardians, we are responsible for the overall health and well-being of our children, which includes their oral health. Once our children are old enough to hold a toothbrush, we should teach them how to brush and clean between their teeth, even if we (the adults) still do most of the work.
By age 7, most children will be capable of taking care of their own teeth, but may need occasional gentle reminders to:
- Brush twice a day for two minutes reaching all tooth surfaces, using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Clean between the teeth every day using floss, soft picks or a small interdental brush.
- Choose water over fruit juice or pop.
- Eat healthy snacks, such as apples, raw vegetables, cheese and plain yogurt.
Children ages 9 to 12 may need extra support as they begin to experience physical and emotional changes that can increase their risk for cavities, gingivitis and bad breath.
Scheduling regular dental hygiene appointments is also important. Your child’s dental hygienist will make sure that they are using proper toothbrushing techniques and making healthy dietary choices. They may also recommend treatments such as fluoride varnish or dental sealants (a thin coating painted on the deep grooves of molars) to prevent cavities.
In some cases, the dental hygienist may refer your child to an orthodontist for a check-up to see how their face and jaws are growing, how their teeth are closing together and if anything may affect how their teeth will function in the future. If you don’t have private dental insurance to cover the cost of these vital services, you may be eligible for the Canada Dental Benefit.
Helping children learn these skills when they are young gives them the tools they need to become healthy thriving teenagers and sets in place long term healthy habits.
Find more tooth tips for kids and pre-teens at dentalhygienecanada.ca/kids7-12