The foundations of good dental health are laid down in childhood. Parents need to help their children to develop good dental hygiene practices, encourage them to eat a healthy diet, and show them that there is no need to be afraid of the dentist.


1. Keep teeth and gums clean

From the earliest days of infancy, the mouth needs to be kept clean. Parents can help to protect their baby by gently wiping around the gums with a soft, damp cloth a couple of times a day, preferably after feeding.

When children get their first set of teeth, parents should brush them gently twice a day with a soft toothbrush and a child-friendly toothpaste. As they get older, kids can start brushing their own teeth, although parents should continue to supervise them to make sure they are brushing correctly and for at least two minutes.


2. Limit sugar in children’s diets

Sugar is bad for children’s teeth because it feeds the bacteria that live in their mouths. These bacteria release acidic waste products that attack tooth enamel, leading to cavities that need to be filled. Keeping kids away from sugar isn’t always easy, but as far as possible parents should try to encourage healthy snacking habits.

Drinks are a hidden source of sugar. Parents should avoid giving soda to children. Even juice can damage teeth, so children should be encouraged to drink juice only at mealtimes rather than sipping it slowly from a cup or bottle.


3. Encourage kids to see the dentist as an ally, not an enemy

Kids who have good experiences with the dentist during childhood are less likely to experience dental phobias later in life. Find a dentist that welcomes kids and has a friendly, patient demeanor. If you keep your children’s teeth healthy by following the tips listed above, then your kids are less likely to need treatments such as fillings. If your child does need treatment, explain what is going to happen in comforting terms that they can understand. Dentists can numb the mouth in preparation for treatment by using a local anesthetic, so your child should not experience pain during dental work.