3.4 Anticipatory Guidance
The best way to involve parents and to increase their understanding of oral health and confidence in oral hygiene care is to explain what to look for in their child’s mouth and then to demonstrate appropriate oral hygiene care skills. Ask parents to demonstrate how they clean and inspect their child’s mouth, and discuss problems they encounter. Brainstorm with parents to arrive at realistic solutions. Suggest modifications to make the process easier and more effective. Parents’ comfort level and the types of problems encountered will change as the child progresses through various developmental stages.
Some of the following special situations may arise:
- If oral motor dysfunction interferes with clearing food from the mouth or with oral hygiene care at home, consult with other members of the child’s health care team (e.g., physician, occupational or physical therapist), and advise the parents.
- Children who cannot hold their mouths open to brush effectively may benefit from special aids such as a mouth prop, if it is used correctly and gently.
Examples of a mouth prop include
- Three or four tongue depressors taped together
- A rolled-up moistened washcloth
- A sterilized rubber doorstop
Download “Focus on the Basics,” “Oral Hygiene Aids,” “Toothbrushing,” “Different Positions for Brushing,” and “Flossing” as PDF files to share with families to foster optimal oral hygiene care.