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3 steps to understanding your child’s oral health

Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions:
  • When do I take my child to start seeing the dentist?
  • Does their age mean anything?
  • When should you start brushing your child’s teeth?
  • When do you increase frequency or change routine to suit their age?
As your child progresses through different life stages their oral hygiene needs change. 
There are three simple stages our children go through regarding their dental health:
  • STAGE ONE - 0 to 4 year olds
  • STAGE TWO - 5 to 12 year olds
  • STAGE THREE - 13 to 18 year olds
My name is Marcelle Girgis, I am a dentist at Prevent Dental and I have seen lots of parents worry over the years about brushing their kids teeth from a young age – but fear not! Between the ages of 0 to 4 your child is learning by example, if they see their parents flossing and brushing 2 times a day then that’s what they believe to be routine. There is no need to force them to brush at this early stage unless they want to! 
What is more important at this stage (ages 0 – 4) is diet and the quality of their saliva. See Is Chocolate Bad for Your Teeth to see what I mean about saliva quality and why it’s important. Parents can show by example and give the toothbrush to the child but it needs to be simple, quick and non traumatic. You’re working with the child – not against. You don’t need to put pressure on yourself and your child – keep it simple, stress-free and fun to ensure longevity.
Between 5-12 years old your child will transition from baby teeth to adult teeth. By 13 all adult teeth are in and all baby teeth have fallen out (some pulled with the promise of the tooth fairy I am sure!). Diet and hygiene (brushing and flossing) are our focal points for this age group. Flossing before brushing protects against decay in the crucial areas.
Stage two
This age is when you are putting routines and lifelong habits in place. Parents should work towards the child’s independently brushing and flossing for 2 minutes twice a day.
The third stage is years 12 to 18 which is where diet changes as the child becomes more independent and parents don’t have as much control of their food intake. This is where habits formed in stage 5-12 become invaluable.
Some research says that from an early age we should be teaching our kids to brush twice a day, but ultimately we want more than anything to create healthy habits for the future. Click here to see a fun video to help parents and their children on their journey to healthy teeth!
Kind Regards,
Marcelle Girgis
Dr. Marcelle Girgis received the Gordon Rowell Prize in Preventive Dentistry awarded to her by the past Dean of Dentistry Prof. Noel Martin.

2 thoughts on “3 steps to understanding your child’s oral health”

  1. I have two children who are old enough to brush their teeth by themselves. It’s still hard to get them to brush everyday, but I don’t think 2 minutes is that long. Maybe I’ll put on a short song that they can brush and floss to. I’m sure their dentist will like that!

  2. I think it’s important to make sure you understand your child’s dental health. You should make sure that you enforce a habit of brushing and flossing at an early age. That way they will keep the habit for the rest of their life. Thanks for sharing!

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