It is important to instill great oral health care habits in children from an early age. Taking care of your little one’s baby teeth is important. But did you know that dental decay in baby teeth can actually cause damage to permanent adult teeth, too? There are several ways that you can encourage your child to practice good oral health care habits. Children need help with tooth brushing and other dental care for several years, but it’s a good idea to set up good behaviors early.
Teach good dental habits: When children first get baby teeth, parents should help with daily tooth brushing and flossing, showing the child how to brush and demonstrating how to use a small amount of toothpaste. Remind your child that toothpaste should not be swallowed. Set a timer to show your child what brushing for at least two minutes looks like, or sing a song during brushing to create a familiar routine.
Encourage a healthy diet: Teach your child about the effects of excess sugary drinks and sweet foods on their teeth. Some dentists tell children that these foods create “sugar bugs” on their teeth that cause damage. Use terms that your child can easily understand. Encourage consumption of healthy foods and provide copious amounts of water instead of sugary juices or sticky snacks. For a treat, offer sugar-free chewing gum, which can strengthen the jaw, encourage re-mineralizing salivation, reduce acid in the mouth that causes decay and freshen the breath.
Involve your child in oral care decisions: Allow your child to choose the color of their toothbrush when shopping at the store. Or allow your child to choose from the variety of fun, shaped flossing tools that are currently widely available. Permit your child to choose the flavor of their toothpaste. Covertly teach proper oral hygiene by reading children’s books on the topic featuring your child’s favorite cartoon or movie characters. Allow your child to set the timer for your tooth brushing and oral care routine. Reward positive dental checkups and good oral care with a small treat or prize.
Schedule regular checkups with a pediatric dentist: Pediatric dentists are trained to specifically address the needs of children and can help children deal with dental anxiety through a variety of child-friendly treatment techniques. Expert suggest that you take your child for their first dental visit around their first birthday. Consult with your dentist to pace and schedule future visits, depending on your child’s development and particular needs. And never be afraid to ask your child’s dentist any questions you may have, including seeking more information about fluoride, sports mouth guards, cavity prevention, orthodontics, how to choose a toothbrush or mouthwash, or other topics.
Healthy teeth are a major factor in overall health, whether you are a child or an adult. Instilling proper oral care habits when a child is young encourages them to continue these good practices for life.
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