Oral Care

Your child is capable of understanding not only the reasons for good hygiene, but also what happens when you don’t practice good hygiene.

At this age, it is still important to help your child and make sure she washes her hands properly.

Encourage her to sing a song such as “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” before she rinses the soap off her hands. This makes sure she is washing long enough to get the germs of f her hands.

Take advantage of soaps that foam or smell to get your child excited about washing her hands. Make the sink easily accessible for your child; have a stepstool and soap readily available to make it easier for her to be more independent and productive.

Don’t use rewards or punishments for your child when it comes to personal hygiene. Explain to her that these are things that are necessary to keep her healthy and safe from illness. Explain that she can’t sit down and have snack until she washes her hands or that you can’t read a bedtime story until she brushes her teeth.

Oral Care

Your child is more independent and is brushing her teeth every morning and night on her own; however, it is still important to monitor and make sure she is brushing her teeth properly. A good tool to introduce is a timer. There are a variety of digital and manual timers that can make it fun for your child as well as help her brush her teeth for the proper amount of time: two minutes.

Four years old is when your dentist will talk about thumb or finger sucking. It is important to start breaking your child of this habit now. Your pediatrician or dentist is trained to help with this problem, too, so seek advice if needed.

It is important to end this habit because it can start affecting your child’s adult teeth as well as spread germs due to your child’s hands being in and out of her mouth after touching surfaces.

Your dentist will also talk to you about the correct amount of fluoride your child needs in her toothpaste at this early age. Too much fluoride can stain your child’s teeth and can also be toxic. There are supplemental gels and special toothpastes made for children.

Milk contains sugars that are harmful to teeth. Have your child rinse with water after she drinks milk, and don’t allow her to drink milk an hour to two hours before bedtime.

Now is the time to introduce floss to your child. Stop for a moment and think about your flossing practices. Do you floss regularly? Most adults do not, and if you don’t floss, how can you possibly expect your child to pick up the habit?

According to dentists flossing is even more important than brushing when it comes to preventing disease and tooth decay. This is because brushing only gets the surface of your child’s teeth; much food gets lodged between the teeth and decays there.

As with brushing your child will need supervision until she is about seven or eight years of age.

Flossing made simple:

1. Have your child cut off a piece of floss 18 inches long.

2. Have your child wrap the ends around her middle or index fingers on both hands.

3. Have your child gently guide the floss between her teeth, moving the floss around the tooth and under the gum line.

4. Alternatively, there are disposable flossing sticks that children can use for the same effect. They break easily so she may need to use more than one a day.

Talk to your dentist about how to maintain healthy gums and lessen the occurrence of cavities. Your doctor will talk to you about the foods your child eats and how often she rinses her mouth after eating sugary foods. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are highly recommended, and processed carbohydrates and foods high in sugar, such as white bread and pastries, are discouraged.