The Importance of Oral Hygiene During Childhood

The Importance of Oral Hygiene During Childhood

You might think there’s time to teach your sweet baby about oral hygiene. After all, baby teeth don’t matter as much, and surely you don’t have to worry about one or two teeth, right? Nope. A baby’s first tooth is a milestone for many reasons. Teaching your little one to care about their teeth is your job as a parent. When teach your child proper brushing techniques, how to use toothpaste, and how to floss, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of healthy habits.

From the first tooth

It’s important that oral hygiene begins with your baby’s first tooth. In fact, you need to take your little tot to a pediatric dentist as soon as their first tooth pokes through their gums. 

The dentist can tell a lot from your baby’s first few teeth. In fact, they can educate you on proper brushing, how and when to add fluoride, and when to introduce flossing. Some of those things won’t happen for years, but knowing them ahead of time helps you maintain a hygiene schedule.

You can also pay attention to the way your child behaves around toothbrushes and toothpaste. Another benefit is that your little darling gets accustomed to the dentist early.

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Enamel endeavors

By the time your baby is two years old, they should have all of their baby teeth, which is also known as primary dentition. The enamel on primary teeth isn’t as dense or strong as the enamel on adult teeth. As a result, it’s way too easy for your tot to develop cavities if they aren’t brushing regularly.

It’s tempting to think that cavities and fillings don’t matter much in baby teeth – they fall out anyway, right? Wrong.

Cavities point to bad brushing habits and poor diets. Plus, it’s not healthy for your child to have oral decay. Recognizing decay is important for oral hygiene, but also for teaching important habits that will help your child long into adulthood.

Tooth growth and speech patterns

Did you know that primary teeth are essential for speech? Without them, your child might not learn proper pronunciation.

Misaligned or malformed teeth can lead to speech impediments, such as lisps or the inability to pronounce certain consonants.

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Child eating watermelon

Chewing on it

Your child needs strong, healthy primary teeth to chew correctly. Instilling good habits from an early age guarantees smooth digestion because their food is properly chewed.

Honestly, this might not seem like a big thing, but failure to chew food well can cause your child to experience heartburn and constipation, among other discomforts.

Spot on brushing habits from the start

It’s just common sense to teach excellent brushing habits from that first tooth. To begin with, that’s entirely up to you. You’re the teacher, and you have to do the job for your kiddo.

First, begin with that single tooth. Once a day will do it until your child turns two; then it’s time to brush twice a day.

Up to the age of seven, a small amount of toothpaste is all your child needs. The right amount is important for oral hygiene because kids swallow a lot of toothpaste as they brush. Too much of it on the brush gives them more to swallow, which can lead to fluorosis from swallowing excess fluoride.

In the beginning, you need to supervise your child. In addition to being in charge of the amount of toothpaste used, watch the brushing process. Once your child hits three, it’s time to pass the torch—that is, the toothbrush—but monitor it until the age of five or six.

Until your child masters the proper brushing technique, some dentists advise you to brush your child’s teeth again after they do it, while others suggest brushing first, then inviting your kiddo to try it solo.

Cavity prevention

Preventing cavities is one of the primary reasons to encourage healthy oral hygiene. As mentioned, it’s critical to avoid decay, even in baby teeth.

Oral hygiene problems are important to recognize. Cavities lead to bad breath, but may result in more serious problems if infection occurs. You don’t want your kiddo to go through anything like that.

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Child eating corn

Creating healthy eating habits

Since primary teeth aid with chewing and help digestion, strong chompers are crucial. Decay is a sure thing if your child consumes acidic or sugary foods and drinks. Introducing fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and lean proteins is not only healthy for your little one’s teeth, but those foods will also strengthen them.

In addition to staying away from too much candy and soda, avoid serving your kid brittle foods or anything else that can do damage. Your dentist can help you to come up with a healthy eating plan.

Developing permanent teeth

Taking care of your baby’s teeth ensures the development of strong adult teeth. It improves the chances that they’ll come in straighter, although it doesn’t mean that braces or retainers won’t be necessary in the future.

The point is that poor development of primary teeth affects your child later in life, too.


Overall, it’s important to teach your kiddo exemplary oral hygiene habits. Learned early, they will stick with your child well into adulthood, decreasing the chances that your baby will develop cavities, gingivitis, or other teeth-related problems as a grown up. Call your local children’s dentist today and book an appointment to get your child on a healthy oral hygiene track.

Author bio: This article was written by Chris Scalise, a content strategist, and specialist in covering topics on how behavior and technology affect the health of developing children. It has been reviewed by Dr. Steven DeLisle, a pediatric dentist and the founder of Children’s Dentistry in Las Vegas, one of the fastest growing pediatric dental practices in the country.