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Did you know that tooth decay is one of childhood’s most common chronic illnesses? Despite being so common in our younger generations, the best way to combat tooth decay is with simple, healthy dental habits for kids and teens. Sadly, one in ten children leave high school without having learned essential life skills like how to brush their teeth properly. This makes it even more critical to ensure your child or teen is practicing proper dental hygiene as early as possible. 

Though cavities are a pain, healthy dental habits for kids and teens aren’t just about protecting their teeth. Children with poor oral health tend to miss more school and get worse grades than those with better dental habits. Starting with healthy dental habits early in life can help prevent more problems down the road, ultimately saving your children time, money, and dental pain throughout their lives. Proper flossing and tooth brushing are the foundation of good dental hygiene habits for teens and kids. Here’s what you can do to set your child or teen on the path to dental success.

Teaching Kids How to Care for their Teeth

Good dental hygiene habits for teens and younger children start with just a few simple steps. Most children have all their adult teeth by the age of twelve, and at that time, they should be able to brush their teeth on their own twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing once a day as children will also help foster healthy habits for teens by starting as early as possible. For children, a soft-bristle brush with a smaller head will protect their teeth and gums from damage while allowing the brush to maneuver in smaller mouths. Encourage your child to follow these steps to get the most from each tooth-brushing session: 

  • Don’t use too much toothpaste–the size of a pea will do.
  • Brush your gums and teeth in gentle circles, not pressing too hard. 
  • Make sure to brush every tooth’s surface, starting with the outside of the top teeth and working inside, then moving to the lower teeth and repeating the process. 
  • Brush the tongue gently to remove bacteria.

In total, each tooth brushing session should last about two minutes. After you’re done, spit out your toothpaste–no need to rinse. 

Aside from tooth-brushing and flossing, fluoride treatments and dental sealants can also help with these healthy dental habits for kids and teens. Everyone’s teeth are different, and even with the best care, some people will develop plaque and tooth problems faster than others. Longer-term treatments can be an essential part of kid-friendly dentistry.

Maintaining Good Dental Health for Kids

Of course, teaching healthy dental habits for kids and teens is only half the battle. Encouraging children to keep up those healthy habits in the long-term is equally if not more challenging. Like so many healthy habits, they are only effective when practiced regularly and backed up by routine visits to the dentist. If you’re looking for family-friendly dentistry in Albany, Oregon, Pinnacle Dental Associates has you covered. You can get your whole family’s dentistry procedures done all in one place and discuss the best way to keep your child’s teeth healthy both in and out of the office.