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Children and Teeth: 5 Tips to Encourage Good Oral Health

Written by Valley Oak Dental on . Posted in Pediatric Dentistry

For you, brushing and flossing your teeth seems like an easy habit to maintain. After all, you’ve taken care of your teeth in this manner since you were a child. But you likely didn’t always adhere to these good oral habits when you were younger. If you have children of your own, they may not enjoy brushing or flossing their teeth either.

However, your children should develop good oral health habits as soon as they cut their first tooth-if not sooner. Even if one of your children doesn’t have a tooth, you should still teach him or her to care for his or her gums.

Sometimes children aren’t the most accommodating when it comes to caring for their teeth. But as their parent, you want your children to stay healthy-and you definitely want them to maintain good oral hygiene habits. Yet if your children put up a fight when they need to brush their teeth, you may find it difficult to meet this goal.

In the blog below, we provide a few tips that you can use to promote good oral health in your children-regardless of how much they like or dislike brushing and flossing. Read on to learn some additional steps you can take as a parent.

1. Choose the Right Toothpaste and Toothbrush

Even if your children don’t like to brush their teeth, you can still find ways to help them develop the habit. First, you should choose the right kind of toothbrush and toothpaste for your children to use. Make sure to purchase a kid-friendly, fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens and supports teeth, so you’ll want your children to use this kind of toothpaste as they brush.

You’ll also want to buy child-sized, soft-bristle toothbrushes for your children. Baby teeth require more delicate care, and the smaller brush and softer bristles make this form of care easier to achieve.

To further excite your children about brushing their teeth, let them pick out their own toothbrushes. Look for toothbrushes with their favorite TV characters or colors on them.

You can even let them pick a different flavor of toothpaste. Though plain mint toothpastes may be your preference, children don’t always like the taste of mint. Consider different flavors like strawberry, bubblegum, or watermelon.

2. Lead by Example

The easiest way to promote good oral health in your children is to show them why oral hygiene habits are important. As your children prepare for bed, brush your teeth with them. Children tend to adopt the same habits and mannerisms their parents have. So, if they see you brush and floss regularly, they’re more likely to follow in your footsteps.

3. Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks

According to dental experts, cavities are five times more common in children than asthma. Additionally, cavities are considered the number one disease that affects young children.

To promote good oral health and reduce your children’s risk for developing dental caries, limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks they consume each day. Use the following tips as you set limits:

Don’t give your children soda. These drinks contain high levels of sugar and phosphoric acid that can seriously damage your children’s teeth.

Swap out most drinks for water or milk. If you do give your children juice to drink, water it down if possible.

Avoid giving your children sugary treats close to bedtime. The sugars in these foods can stay in your children’s mouths as they sleep, giving bacteria a chance to grow and affect their teeth.

During the holidays, limit the amount of candy your children consume. For example, during Halloween and Christmas, you can create a candy bank and let children have one or two pieces each day.

Setting limits may seem difficult, but these rules can protect your children’s teeth from damage. If your children don’t understand why they can’t eat too much sugar, explain to them that too many sweets can hurt their teeth. You can also talk to your dentist and have him or her explain this concept to your children.

4. Provide Well-Balanced Meals

Additionally, your children should eat well-balanced meals and snacks to ensure good oral health. Limit the amount of starchy foods they consume. Bacteria can turn these starches to sugars, and then the bacteria consume those sugars and produce an acid which can damage teeth.

Instead, provide meals that include a range of fruits and vegetables. Also include meats, dairy, and good fats (like avocados or nuts).

A well-balanced diet contains vitamins and minerals your children need to stay healthy overall. And those same vitamins and minerals are crucial for good oral health. The more balanced your children’s diet, the better their oral health will be.

5. Visit Your Dentist

Finally, remember to visit your children’s dentist at least twice a year. He or she can examine your children’s teeth and catch any dental issues before they develop too far. Your dentist can even teach your children good brushing and flossing techniques to make these routines more fun.

If your children don’t brush or floss as often or well as you’d like, try some of the tips listed above to encourage good oral health. You can also ask your children’s dentist for further tips and advice to keep their teeth healthy and strong.