The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Dental Tips for Keiki at Every Age

Medically reviewed in February 2022

Helping our keiki maintain good dental health is just as important to their developmental growth as physical activity and nutrition. Follow these tips to keep keiki teeth healthy at any age:

Infants and toddlers
Dental care begins from the moment your child has teeth. Parents should begin brushing baby teeth as soon as they start to pop through the gums. Make your baby’s first dental appointment before their first birthday.

Preschool
Preschoolers typically start to want to brush by themselves, but they still need a guiding hand to ensure they’re brushing correctly. Teaching them proper brushing technique will get them ready for brushing on their own. Getting kids excited about brushing isn’t always easy, but letting them pick out their very own toothbrush and fun fluoride toothpaste can help.

Elementary school
As children age into the elementary years, they often have busy schedules that include school and extracurricular activities. Tight schedules can lead to poor dental hygiene. But building good dental habits at an early age will likely follow your child into adulthood. Make sure your keiki are brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once daily. Since Hawaii’s water doesn’t contain added fluoride, it’s important that your child’s toothpaste does. Make sure they’re using a soft- bristled brush to avoid wearing away tooth enamel and injuring gums.

Encourage healthy habits like limiting sugary food go a long way toward preventing cavities. Drinking water throughout the day increases saliva production, which helps protect against cavities and decay. And healthy, crunchy snacks like carrots and apples help clean teeth between morning and evening brushing.

Teenagers 
It isn’t uncommon for teenagers to oversleep and then rush out the door without so much as thinking about brushing and flossing. One good solution is to have a few disposable or travel toothbrushes and toothpaste on hand to shove into backpacks. Remind your kids that they’ll feel their best with a clean smile and fresh breath. Make sure they have regularly scheduled cleanings and checkups with their dentist.

Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing is important for people of all ages, but especially for our keiki. Healthy teeth and gums help kids face daily challenges and triumphs without the pain, discomfort, and embarrassment caused by cavities, decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Keep those smiles bright, it only takes four minutes a day!

Need assistance finding a dentist? We’ve made it easy for you. Click here to find a dentist in your network that can provide you with the dental services you need.

This content originally appeared on Well-Being Hawaii.

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