Oral health is crucial for a child’s overall well-being and development. Children who maintain good oral health tend to eat, sleep, and learn better. The resources listed below can help educate families about the significance of healthy routines, good oral hygiene, and the role of fluoride in protecting teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) program, Brush, Book, Bed, emphasizes the importance of three simple steps for families:
- Help your children brush their teeth every night.
- Read them a favorite book or two.
- Ensure they go to bed at a regular time each night.
Brush! Book! Bed!
Brushing is essential for young children, and they need assistance from an adult to ensure they clean their teeth well. Teach children to spit out extra toothpaste when possible, but don’t rinse with water first. The little bit of toothpaste left behind is good for their teeth!
It’s never too early to start instilling good oral health practices. Caregivers can start wiping their baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after feeding. Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle filled with milk and introduce healthy foods when it’s time to introduce solids.
- For children under three years of age, use a smear (grain of rice) of toothpaste with fluoride twice a day as soon as you see a tooth.
- For children aged three to six, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. It’s okay to let them practice with the brush, but caregivers should take their turn, too.
Remember, the toothbrush is the last thing that touches the teeth before bed!
After toothbrushing, find a comfortable spot to sit and read with your child. Spending some time, even 15 minutes each day, to read aloud together can help improve a child’s language development and social-emotional skills. Make your own stories, use silly voices, sing songs, and enjoy this special bonding time with your child. Visit your local library or bookstore and allow your child to explore different kinds of books.
Sleep is critical to a child’s health and well-being. Establishing good sleep habits from birth is essential. However, getting young children to sleep and stay asleep can be daunting. Regardless of a child’s age, the key is to establish a predictable series of steps that help them wind down from the day.
Set regular bedtimes and nap times (if applicable) and stick to them. Do not wait for your child to start rubbing their eyes or yawning, as that is often too late. Putting your child to bed even 15-20 minutes earlier can make a significant difference and helps to ensure everyone has a good night’s rest. A predictable nighttime routine helps children understand and expect what comes next, and eases the stress that some families may feel.
Healthy Child Care Colorado is proud to support the Basics of Oral Health through our Cavity Free Kids training.