With the stay-at-home mandate across the state of California, the last couple months have been a whirlwind for us all.
Your family has likely been tasked with making difficult adjustments to your work, school, and social schedules. And you’ve got to spend extra time taking care of your family’s health — all from home.
This includes finding new ways to stay on top of your dental care, too.
When it comes to your kids, you want the very best for them. Making sure their teeth are clean and taken care of is a big piece of that.
Dental hygiene impacts more than you might think. Preventing tooth decay means preventing other potential health problems down the line.
The build-up of germs that comes with tooth decay can cause an infection, which can lead to pain, bleeding, and swelling. And when left untreated, tooth decay can lead to gum disease.
About 91% of people with heart disease also have gum disease. That’s because the inflammation in your gums can spread to your arteries, making for a much larger risk of a heart attack.
The swelling that comes with gum disease can also increase bacteria in your lungs. That means conditions like pneumonia can worsen — a risk certainly not worth taking, since coronavirus is a respiratory illness.
Take a deep breath: Gum disease and other oral issues can be prevented with the right dental hygiene routines for their age range.
By knowing the proper dental routine and having the resources to make the process fun and educational for your children, you’re well on the way to them having a healthy mouth free from medical issues!
At-Home Dental Hygiene Routine for Kids
Infants (1 month to 3 years)
Even though infants don’t have teeth yet, it’s still important to keep their gums clean and healthy. Be sure to schedule their first dentist appointment (when possible) right before their first birthday, or as soon as their first tooth shows.
Although you may not be able to go see the dentist right now, here’s how you can take care of your infant’s teeth at home:
- Wipe their gums clean with a clean, damp rag after every feeding
- Be sure to take their bottle away as soon as they’re done feeding. Leaving it in their mouth while they’re playing or sleeping can cause more germs to build up
- Once their teeth begin to appear, brush them with just a little bit of toothpaste — a tiny amount, about the size of a grain of rice, is more than enough!
Kids (3-12 years old)
Teaching your children the importance of keeping their teeth clean at an early age can help them become more independent and consistent in their health routine as they grow.
- Upgrade to a pea-size amount of toothpaste
- Help them brush twice a day and floss once a day
- Start flossing as soon as teeth begin to touch
- Visit the dentist every 6 months
While infants don’t need entertainment to manage their dental health routine, chances are your little ones will need something to help them stop and focus for a few minutes.
It’s helpful to help teach your kids why it’s important to brush and floss correctly. Teaching them helps them realize the importance of keeping their teeth clean instead of viewing it as just another mundane task or rule. We’re here to help you make that process fun!
The Lego & Play-Doh Flossing Game
This fun and easy-to-learn game helps kids find a fun way to floss. All you need is a few large Lego blocks, Play-Doh, and some yarn.
In this game, the Play-Doh symbolizes germs and old food that can turn into plaque, while the pegs of the Lego blocks represent teeth. Press Play-Doh around the pegs. Give your children yarn and have them “floss” the Play-Doh off the Legos. Whoever finishes first, wins!
Then you and your child can practice the real thing on your own teeth with floss in the bathroom, putting those newly learned skills to work.
The Teeth-Friendly Foods Game
For this game, start by cutting out paper teeth that are about 4 inches long or more. Then, go through some magazines and cut out foods that are good for teeth.
Glue the pictures of food to the paper teeth, and hang them where your children can be reminded of the foods that keep their teeth nice and clean.
Make Brushing Fun
Come up with 2-minute long activities you can do while your child is brushing. Perhaps you can play their favorite song and do a brushing dance, or read a story that takes about 2 minutes. Feel free to get creative!
Here are some more ideas to help you out:
Brush Your Body
Let the younger kids take the lead on their own tooth brushing with this silly game. Let them know it’s time to brush their teeth, then pretend to brush their ear.
Continue with their eye, shoulder, etc. until they show you where their teeth are and how to brush them.
Guess the Song
Prepare your toothbrushes for brushing. Start brushing first, and start to hum a song. Try to get your child to guess what song it is.
Once they guess, it’s their turn! Take as many turns as needed to complete the brushing.
Disney Magic Timer
If you have a Disney fan on your hands, they’re going to love this app!
The Disney Magic Timer works with iOS and androids. All you need is a Disney Oral-B toothbrush or toothpaste.
Your child will get to choose the character they’d like to be, and brush along with them for 2 minutes to help reveal a secret picture covered in toothpaste.
Time will fly as they try to guess the Disney character being uncovered as they brush.
Remember — We’re Here to Help!
During this time of elevated concern regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we want you to know the safety of our patients, families and employees is our highest priority.
As essential care providers, we have a commitment as providers of oral healthcare to our patients, especially during health crises. It’s critical for us to stay open and stay on the front line for care.
We play a fundamental role in our communities in preventive, emergency, and non-elective care services for patients. If we don’t stay open, our patients who are in pain may have no option except to go to urgent care or emergency rooms. This would mean crowding emergency rooms and urgent care centers that are already under great pressure to take care of those who need care for coronavirus and other issues.
If you or your child are experiencing pain, swelling, bleeding, and/or trauma in your mouth, it counts as an emergency. We’ll be there for these services so you can skip the ER.
We will comply with all local orders and adjust our care per recommendations by the American Dental Association and California Dental Association.
Children’s Choice Offices that are Staying Open
These pediatric offices will be open for your dental emergencies:
- Glendora – Mon-Wed: 9am-6pm, Sat: By Appointment
- Oxnard – Mon-Tue: 8am-5pm, Wed-Thu: 9am-6pm
- Sacramento (Arden) – Mon-Wed: 12pm-6pm
- Sacramento (Natomas) – Mon-Fri: 1pm-6pm
- San Francisco – Tue-Thu: 1pm-6pm *ER Patients ONLY*
- Vacaville – Tue-Sat: 7am-6pm *Recare + NP w/o pain Can Be Scheduled*
- Yuba City – Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm
These schedule changes will be in place until April 7, 2020.
Learn More Ways to Keep Your Children’s Teeth Healthy
There are even more ways you can ensure that your children’s teeth stay healthy. This includes making sure they wear a mouth guard during sports, eating healthy snacks, and more.