Good oral care habits set your kids up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. As parents, you want the best for your children. Lead by example to help your kids learn good oral care habits for a lifetime of confidence and health.
The following tips promote healthy oral health and good health in general. Many of the behaviors that are good for the mouth are also good for the rest of the body.
Top 5 Tips To Help Parents Promote Good Oral Care Habits
1. Make Oral Hygiene a Daily Habit
Daily oral hygiene habits are the cornerstone of healthy teeth and gums.
- Teach your children to brush their teeth twice a day, use a 2-minute timer to encourage thorough brushing. Be sure to provide soft bristled brushes that clean without damaging tooth enamel. Use a fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen the tooth enamel.
- In addition to brushing, floss at least once a day to keep gum tissue healthy.
- If needed, consider using an antibacterial mouthwash once per day in the evening.
- Teach your children about the importance of oral care in preventing gum disease, bone loss, and tooth decay. Gum disease is associated with other health risks including heart disease and low birth weight babies. One common theory is that inflamed gums result in chronic low-level inflammation that may stress the body. Wherever the cause, healthy gums are part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Ask for advice from your child’s dental hygienist to learn the best oral care techniques.
Reward young children for their commitment to consistent oral hygiene. Some parents find that their children are motivated by colorful charts that track their progress in daily tooth care. Be sure to establish a routine where children brush their teeth early enough in the evening so they don’t rush it. Sometimes if they are too tired they cut corners and do not thoroughly clean their teeth. We recommend always going behind your child after they brush.
Brushing together can be a good way for them to mirror your behavior. Children learn from example. It is well and good to ask them to take care of their teeth. However, the message is most effective when they also see their parents living a tooth and gum friendly lifestyle.
2. Promote Healthy Nutrition
In addition to consistent oral hygiene, good nutrition is also essential to a healthy mouth. As it happens, good nutrition is essential for all-around good health.
The most obvious tip is to limit sugar. Sugary foods cause tooth decay. It isn’t just the obvious sources of sugar such as candy and cookies. Other simple carbohydrates start to break down and ferment in the mouth and also lead to tooth decay. Some examples include bread, crackers, cereals, and fruits like bananas.
Acidic foods like fruit juice and soda also damage the teeth. Some foods like aged cheeses help neutralize acids in the mouth. Colgate recommends a balanced diet emphasizing whole grains, vegetables, lean proteins and limited amounts of fruits and carbohydrates.
Here are a few tips to help prevent damage from sugary and acidic foods:
- You don’t have to cut these foods from a balanced diet, but be aware that prolonged exposure damages the teeth more than limited exposure. Limit between-meal snacking on sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
- Consistent oral hygiene like twice daily brushing and daily flossing help.
- Remineralizing with fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth.
- Promote drinking and rinsing with water throughout the day. Water may help dilute the damaging sugars and even help rinse them away.
- If your child enjoys chewing gum, consider a sugar-free gum containing Xylitol as this can help neutralize some of the sugars and acids.
Teeth and bones require calcium. Be sure to serve calcium-rich foods to promote healthy growth and maintenance of teeth and bones. Some calcium-rich foods include dairy products or leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach.
3. Encourage Teeth-friendly Habits
Avoid risking tooth damage that comes from reckless behavior like using teeth as tools. Teach your children to respect their teeth and not to use them to open packages or to use them for anything other than eating.
In addition, many people grind their teeth when stressed. This causes pain and tooth damage. Grinding is often an unconscious habit in response to stress. Teach your children good stress management and relaxation habits. The benefits of stress management go far beyond dental health. Also, a nightguard can protect teeth against nighttime grinding and the resulting damage.
4. Be Aware Of Safety
Contact and impact sports carry the risk of tooth damage. You can minimize this risk by having your child wear a mouth guard designed for sports. While it may seem a little inconvenient it does minimize the risk of broken teeth and other injuries.
5. Prioritize Preventative Care
Age appropriate and regular dental care sets your kids up for a lifetime of dental health. Children grow rapidly and so do their teeth. The most appropriate care varies depending on their stage of development.
- Early and pre-teeth dental care: During your child’s first six months the teeth are developing within their gums. A gum-healthy diet is the most important aspect of dental care during this stage.
- First teeth: When your child’s first teeth emerge, visit a pediatric dentist for screenings and to monitor tooth growth and development. Listen to the dentist’s advice, usually, they require visits every six months. Primary/baby teeth usually start to grow in around six months old.
- Permanent teeth: At around six years old, a child’s first permanent teeth arrive. They continue to come in between 6 and 11 years. You want to establish good oral care habits and regular dental visits.
Each mouth is different. As your child’s teeth develop your dentist may suggest specific treatments or even refer your child to an orthodontist if necessary.
Charlotte area families trust Southview Dentistry with their kid’s oral health. If you are looking for a family dentist, contact Southview Dentistry today to make an appointment.