Tips for instilling positive dental habits in children

It's possible you've heard the alarming news; over 78% of adult Americans currently have some form of gum disease. Hamlin Dental Group would like you to also know that, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 80% of the US population has at least one cavity by age 17. For most of us, poor dental hygiene begins early, and the negative effects are only compounded as we age. The risks are much worse than simply losing teeth or dealing with halitosis (bad breath). Recent studies have shown a link between gum disease and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The best protection any of us could have is to develop the best possible dental habits while we're still children. After all, it's the habits we establish in childhood that tend to last a lifetime. Below are a few very important tips for getting your kids started on the right dental path.

Cleaning Care

To protect your kid's teeth, cleaning should begin as early as possible. Some believe that dental hygiene isn't particularly important while the baby teeth are developing because they're going to be lost eventually anyway. In truth, an untreated cavity, even in a baby tooth, could lead to more serious issues, so it's very important to prevent them. Dental hygiene should begin as soon as the baby teeth begin to form, at which point you should use a clean, damp washcloth to carefully and gently wipe down the teeth and the gum line.

By age two, establish a brushing routine using a toddler's brush with a pea shaped amount of fluoride toothpaste. At age six, encourage them to brush by themselves, and teach them the proper technique. The Hamlin Dental Blog covers the best tooth brushing tactics that you should pass on to your kids.


A big part of forming good habits is routine and reinforcement. For many parents, once they teach their kids how to brush, they remove themselves from the equation. While establishing the habit, a parent needs to stay engaged, and check on their child regularly to make sure they're doing it properly, or that they're still doing it at all. A child should understand the need to brush their teeth, and have it be something they want to do.

Make your children understand that poor dental hygiene is actually kind of gross. Teach them how to check for cleanliness by having them run their tongue against the surface of their teeth before and after brushing. Encourage them to notice the difference.


A healthy diet can be as important to good dental care as dental hygiene. Sugar is Public Enemy #1 when it comes to tooth decay and gum problems, and it should obviously be limited. No more than ten teaspoons of processed sugar every day is the USDA recommendation. You should also watch when you children consume sweet products in addition to how much. An occasional sugary treat isn't so bad, but try not to let them have it in between meals. Their saliva will break it down better this way

Also, a diet that consists of whole grains, fruits, and veggies will also help combat obesity, while helping keep teeth clean and healthy. Instilling positive dental habits in your children is also great opportunity to form positive overall health habits.



Hamlin Dental Group


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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