kid smiling while showing teeth and thumbs up

Instilling Good Oral Hygiene Habits in Kids from an Early Age

  •  Initiate good oral hygiene early, starting to clean gums before teeth emerge and introducing flossing when appropriate.
  • Limiting sugary treats and making dental hygiene fun can encourage children to maintain their oral health.
  • Regular dental visits are crucial for early detection and treatment of dental issues and for obtaining professional advice.
  • Parents should lead by example, incorporating dental hygiene into daily routines and following dentists’ recommendations.

As a parent, one of your most important responsibilities is to ensure that your child develops healthy habits. Among the most critical is maintaining good oral hygiene. Dental health is crucial to your child’s overall health and can affect their well-being in many ways. Positive dental hygiene habits will set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. This article will discuss ways to instill good oral hygiene habits in kids early on.

Start Early

Experts suggest parents should start cleaning their child’s gums before their first tooth appears. Using a clean, damp washcloth, gently wash your baby’s gums to remove any leftover milk or formula. Once teeth come in, use a soft toothbrush appropriate for their age and size and brush twice daily. By setting a routine of cleaning their teeth twice a day, you’re starting healthy habits from the very beginning. Here are three other practices to instill in your child:


Introducing flossing at an early age is crucial as it aids in the removal of food particles and plaque from between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach. You can start teaching your child to floss once they have two teeth that touch. Initially, you might need to assist them. However, as they grow older and their dexterity improves, they can take over this task.

Avoid Sugary Treats

An excess of sugary treats can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and other dental problems. While it’s not necessary to completely eliminate sweets from your child’s diet, moderation is key. Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet and explain the importance of limiting the consumption of sweets. Additionally, when they do indulge, ensure they brush their teeth afterward to minimize the risk of cavities.

Make it a Fun Experience

To ensure that your child maintains enthusiasm for oral hygiene, it’s essential to make the routines as enjoyable as possible. Consider using a toothpaste flavor that your child likes and a toothbrush with their favorite cartoon character. You can also turn brushing and flossing into a fun game or sing a song while they’re brushing to keep them engaged.

mother smiling while brushing teeth with daughter

Go to Regular Dental Visits

Establishing a routine of regular visits to the dentist’s office is a crucial part of maintaining good oral health. This practice should be initiated no later than the child’s first birthday or when their first tooth emerges.

Regular check-ups allow the dentist to monitor your child’s oral health, catch early signs of dental issues, and provide appropriate treatments. For instance, the dentist may recommend sealants to protect your child’s molars from cavities.

In most cases, the dentist will provide sound advice on how to care for your child’s teeth and gums. They may also suggest diet or lifestyle changes that can help maintain oral health.

young boy being checked by a dentist

Lead by Example

As with most things in life, your child will follow your lead and create a positive precedent. When it comes to dental hygiene, you will set an example by brushing and flossing with them. Your child will grow up knowing that caring for their teeth is essential to their daily routine. Children look up to their parents as role models, so forming and practicing healthy habits will go a long way. Here are other ways to lead by example to your children:

Make it Part of the Bedtime Routine

Create a consistent bedtime routine and make sure brushing your teeth is part of it. Get into the habit of brushing your teeth at the same time each night before you turn off the lights. This will reinforce that healthy dental habits are essential and must be done every day.

Keep Your Teeth Clean

Beyond regular brushing and flossing, making sure your own teeth are clean and healthy sends the right message to your children. Regular dental check-ups, avoiding excess sugar, and not smoking are some practices that can help maintain oral health. When your children see you taking good care of your teeth, they are more likely to follow suit.

Follow Dentist Recommendations

If the dentist recommends unique treatments for you or provides preventive advice, like limiting sugar consumption, follow through. This will show your child that you take your dental health seriously and help them understand the importance of following the dentist’s advice.

Instilling good oral hygiene habits in kids from an early age is critical to their overall health and well-being. The points discussed in this article, such as regular cleaning before teeth come in, making dental hygiene fun, being a good role model, regular dental check-ups, and a balanced diet, are all essential. It can be challenging at times to encourage your child to take care of their teeth but remember that consistency is vital. Encourage good habits early, and you are guaranteed a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums for your child.

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