When it comes to our children, it is important to encourage them to begin taking care of their oral health at a young age. By encouraging healthy habits from early on, children will be more inclined to continue taking care of their teeth for years to come.
Tips for Maintaining Healthy Teeth
In order to establish healthy oral habits, it helps to get your child involved in the process and reward them for brushing and flossing properly.
- Create a fun, daily routine i.e. sing a special song during the time they are brushing their teeth or do a silly dance after
- Reward your child for cavity-free dentist visits with a new book or toy
- Let your child pick out a toothbrush at the store. Let them decide if they want a manual or electric toothbrush, what kind of color or cartoon characters they want on it, and what kind of bristles they prefer.
What to Look for When Choosing a Dentist
It is crucial to find a dentist your child is comfortable with in order to ensure a positive experience. A negative visit could lead to anxiety around dentists in the future.
Try to find a dentist that has experience with children and incorporates unique, positive techniques to increase a child’s comfort level and increase their chance of enjoying their visit. These techniques include:
- Offering a chance to pick a prize or two out of a bucket at the end of the visit
- Enrollment in a “no cavities” club
- Fun glasses to wear during the examination
- Music to listen to during the appointment
- The choice of which toothpaste flavor to be used
You can also search out a pediatric dentist to care for your child’s teeth. Pediatric dentists complete additional training, usually 2 to 3 years beyond dental school, and are experts in child psychology and development. This expertise allows pediatric dentists to interact with children in a comfortable, positive manner.
Beyond the Dentist
Consistent brushing habits and regular trips to the dentist are key steps to helping your child maintain a healthy mouth but there are additional helpful guidelines to follow. It is also important to encourage healthy eating habits. Certain foods and drinks can be detrimental to the integrity of your child’s teeth. Give your child a simple explanation of why sugar is bad for their teeth i.e. sugar can stick to your teeth and this can lead to cavities and weak teeth. According to the American Dental Associaton, foods to avoid or limit include:
- Soda, juice and sports drinks – prolonged exposure to the sugar in these drinks allows bacteria to use the sugar to produce acid that attacks tooth enamel
- Sticky foods such as candy or dried fruit – sticky foods have a tendency to get stuck on teeth
- Crunchy foods like potato chips – these foods contain starch that tends to get stuck in your teeth
Just as some foods can encourage tooth decay, other foods can assist your teeth in staying strong and healthy. These foods include:
- Calcium – found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Calcium can also be found in canned fish with bones and almonds
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
All in all, it is essential to instill positive oral health habits as soon as possible. By finding a qualified, skilled dentist your child feels comfortable with, you are setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth.