As children get their teeth, it is important to develop healthy oral hygiene habits to prevent issues such as cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease down the road.
While most children tend to be reluctant to receive assistance in everyday activities due to their desire to be capable and independent, helping them take care of their teeth when they are young is definitely important to ensure that they are made aware of how important oral hygiene is and that they are doing it correctly. Here are a few ways you can assist your child in maintaining healthy teeth.
1. Brush with them
Children tend to learn by mimicking what adults do. Therefore, a great way to help your child develop healthy oral hygiene habits is by brushing your teeth with them and letting them watch you. While it is possible you have a set routine and may have developed a certain way of doing things, try to brush and floss as best as you can so your child can learn the correct way to take care of their teeth and not develop bad habits.
Doing it slower than usual also helps so your child sees everything that you are doing. It is recommended that a person brushes twice daily for at least 2 minutes so keeping track of time would be beneficial so they know how long to brush for. A timer with an alarm would let them know when they can stop brushing.
2. Regular dentist visits
Taking your child to see a cosmetic dentist is an obvious step in instilling healthy oral hygiene but one that is not necessarily taken by people. Your child is just learning how to take care of their teeth and as a result their technique will not be perfect. A dentist office can clean your child’s teeth especially ones that toothbrushes and floss cannot reach. Plaque and build-up around teeth that lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease can be addressed during cleanings and a hygienist can review proper brushing techniques with your child to ensure they understand how to take care of their teeth correctly.
3. Make it fun
Oral hygiene is a chore but it does not have to feel like one for your child. Taking care of their teeth can be fun for your child and there are many steps you can take to make it feel this way. Implement a reward system where your child gets a sticker every time they brush their teeth without persuasion. When they get a certain amount of stickers, reward them with a prize.
Children also respond well to stories so while they brush, tell a story about all of the “sugar bugs” they are attacking by brushing their teeth. If you use a timer when your child brushes their teeth, cheer when they reach the 2 minute mark. These things will make the task enjoyable and will make them want to do it.
4. Watch what they eat
Obviously, the amount of sugar you give your child will dramatically impact the condition of their teeth. Try your best to avoid candy, sticky foods, and sodas that will cause cavities. Promote foods such as fruits and vegetables and drinks such as water and milk. Calcium sources in addition to milk that can promote good oral health include yogurt, cheeses, and broccoli. In the event your child does eat or drink things that would promote tooth decay and cavities, use toothpaste that has fluoride in it. Fluoride fights plaque and sugars in the mouth and can reverse signs of early tooth decay.