Part of being a good parent is always having a desire to help your children enjoy good health and opportunities to have a successful, happy adult life. Since children with good nutritional health and a healthy level of self-confidence are better positioned to succeed, parents should always include good dental health in any plan they develop for raising a happy, healthy, successful child. If you are embarking on your first parenting journey and would like some tips to help you better incorporate good dental hygiene habits, the following information can help. 

Start young

The easiest way to make dental hygiene as much a part of a normal day as putting on shoes is to start very young, even before your infant's teeth begin to erupt from the gums. In fact, parents can begin creating a routine for good dental hygiene as soon as they bring their baby home from the hospital by simply using a square of sterile, dampened gauze or a clean, soft washcloth to wipe their child's gums after nursing or taking a bottle of formula. Doing this will help clean away residue from breast milk or formula and lay the foundation for a healthy brushing and flossing routine when the child is a bit older. 

Make it fun

When teeth begin to erupt, parents will want to move from using a soft cloth to a special child's toothbrush with soft bristles and begin focusing on a more rigid, twice-daily routine. At first, parents will need to help complete the entire brushing routine with their youngsters, but as the child's dexterity improves, parents can gradually allow their child to have more control and themselves drop back to a supervisory role. 

Since children respond well to music, parents may want to begin the tradition of playing one of the child's favorite songs while brushing and flossing. The beat of the music can help children learn to use even, rhythmic strokes when brushing and flossing, while the progression of the music can help them learn how long to devote to each part of their dental health routine. 

Overcome fear

According to recommendations by the American Dental Association, dental care professionals agree that children should have a first visit to the dentist no later than six months after their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday, whichever comes first. Since this stage of life can correspond with the period when toddlers are reticent about new experiences, parents will want to help reinforce the idea that a trip to the dentist is an event to be welcomed. 

A good way to accomplish this is to take your child to visit the dentist office a few days before the actual appointment. Spend some time exploring the waiting room and playing with the toys that most pediatric dentists provide for their young patients. After you leave the dental office, make it a point to do something fun with your child, such as stopping for a healthy treat or purchasing a favorite book or toy. 

By introducing your child to the dental office a few days ahead of the actual appointment, your child will feel familiar with the waiting room and feel much more confident about meeting their dentist and having their first dental exam. 

Keep it fun

As your child gets older, parents will want to continue their efforts to ensure that each dental appointment is viewed as a pleasant event, instead of something to be dreaded. The best way to do this is to add more age-appropriate rewards after each dental visit, such as an hour at a nearby park, library, or museum, or an opportunity to have a special lunch date with mom or dad. 

To learn more about establishing a routine that will help ensure that your child is able to enjoy a lifetime of good dental health, parents can discuss their situations and concerns with their dentist