It’s never too soon to start teaching your children about the importance of looking after their teeth, since good habits inculcated at an early age will continue throughout their life. The question of whether young children should be using dental floss and mouth wash is one which many parents have had just cause to ponder. Working closely with your dentist you’ll know exactly how to keep your teeth healthy in terms of what kinds of food and drink should be avoided and how and when you should clean your teeth. This last is particularly important, since many people assume that it’s enough to simply scrub the teeth as hard as possible, something which actually damages the enamel. A dentist or dental hygienist will be able to give you effective brushing tips, demonstrating the gentle circular cleaning method which brings about the best results and advising a minimum cleaning period of two minutes.
When it comes to young children a parent can actually start to put good habits in place before the first teeth even begin to emerge by gently massaging the gums using a soft, clean damp cloth. This will not only remove any bacteria which may have built up on the gums but it will also introduce your child, at the earliest opportunity, to the notion of dental hygiene. When it comes to more advanced techniques such as using dental floss, the time to introduce it is when your child has two teeth which are growing side by side. As soon as teeth become adjacent it means that a toothbrush isn’t capable of getting to all of the debris and bacteria which might be trapped between them, and therefore floss has to be used to get the job done. When your child is very young you’ll have to do the flossing for them, since younger children lack the co-ordination necessary to use the floss properly. By the age of nine, however, your child should be able to floss with your supervision, and this progress can be speeded up by investing in a flossing tool which stretches the floss between two prongs of a plastic fork. The advantage of this method is that it can be done using only one hand, leaving your other hand free to steady your child’s head and keep their mouth wide open. With the right care and attention you should be able to teach your child the flossing technique needed to ensure that particles of food or debris don’t get trapped in the crevices of their mouth and cause infection and decay.
Another tool vital for the maintenance of good dental health is the use of mouthwash, which rinses bacteria from the mouth and reaches places such as gums and the tongue which a brush might miss. Using mouthwash, however, is something which shouldn’t be considered for children who are younger than six years of age. The reason for this is that it’s highly unlikely that a child will be able to avoid swallowing at least a little bit of the mouthwash concerned, something which can be dangerous for a small child, especially if the mouthwash contains, as many do, some alcohol. When your child is old enough you should introduce mouthwash to their dental hygiene regime, showing them how to rinse their mouth properly and supervising their progress. The wisest choice of mouthwash will be one specially made for children, since this will be alcohol free and may well come in a flavour appealing to children, such as strawberry. By encouraging your child to develop good habits from an early age, and working closely with your dentist, you should be laying the groundwork for a lifetime of extremely good dental health.