Tips for Promoting the Importance of Oral Health with Your Children
As a parent, you play an essential role in helping your children to develop healthy oral hygiene habits from an early age. Therefore, it’s important to provide guidance and supervision until your child is capable enough to do it by themselves.
How to Set A Good Example
It’s a well-known fact that good habits start at home. In fact, research shows that when young children see their family members brushing their teeth and practicing good habits, they are more likely to follow suit.
But how can you take the lead and be a good role model for your child when it comes to oral hygiene?
Here are some ways you can set a good example.
Brush and Floss Twice A Day Consistently
It’s recommended that children brush and floss twice a day, so be sure to make this a consistent part of your morning and evening routine as well. When your children see mom and dad brushing and flossing their teeth regularly, it will help normalize the activity and get them used to the idea, making them less likely to resist.
Eat A Well-Rounded Diet
Nutrition plays a crucial role in your overall physical and oral health, along with the cleanliness of your teeth, gums, and mouth. Therefore, following a healthy, nutritious diet from an early age will help keep your kids’ bodies and mouths healthy.
Similar to oral hygiene, when it comes to eating habits, kids learn by example. So, one of the best ways to encourage your kids to eat healthier is by making changes to your own diet.
This should include:
- Increasing calcium intake
- Eating lots of fruits and vegetables
- Reducing sugar consumption
- Eating fewer unhealthy snacks
Children who develop a habit of taking care of their teeth from an early age are far more likely to have healthy teeth into adulthood. So, if you want your child to continue having healthy teeth all throughout their life, it’s important to instill these habits very early on.
Even before your child has teeth, you should be making oral hygiene a priority. Start by cleaning your newborn baby’s gums with a damp washcloth after all feedings to prevent plaque build-up.
Once they get their first tooth, you can start brushing for two minutes twice a day with a child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush that has a cushioned head, along with a pea-sizes amount of toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride.
And once your child has at least two teeth that touch, it’s time for them to start flossing.
Make It Fun
Oral hygiene doesn’t have to be something your kids hate. Try injecting some excitement into this otherwise mundane activity so your children will actually look forward to it.
One way to do this is by taking your kids along on a trip to the store and letting them pick out their own toothbrush in a fun color or pattern.
And to ensure they actually brush their teeth adequately and long enough, pick a fun song that you can designate as the ‘tooth brushing’ song. Play or sing it whenever it comes time for your kids to brush their teeth and ensure they brush their teeth for the entire length of the tune.
Schedule Regular Visits to The Dentist
Start bringing your child to the dentist for regular checkups around the age of 1 to develop positive experiences early on.
This will help to reinforce the idea that the dentist is not a scary place, but a warm and friendly environment.
If you wait until your child is older, they may develop some anxiety regarding the dentist and resist going.
Some ways you can prepare your child for their first dentist appointment is to:
- Bring them along to your next dental checkup so they can see you having your teeth examined and cleaned and learn that it’s not that scary.
- Teach them about teeth and going to the dentist through children’s books and fun activities.
- Play a game where you and your child take turns being the dentist and the patient and examine each other’s teeth. Use your fingers to count each other’s teeth to help familiarize them with the feel of a dental exam.
Consistency Is Key
Being consistent and developing a routine when it comes to your child’s oral health is the best way for them to develop long-lasting habits that will eventually become second nature to them.
Schedule set times for brushing and flossing twice a day and stick with them to help reinforce a routine.
Making brushing and flossing an engrained part of your child’s morning and nighttime routine will help to instill the idea that oral hygiene is always a priority even when life gets busy and chaotic.
Benefits of Healthy Dental Habits
The carbohydrates in certain foods and drinks can cause in cavity-causing bacteria to grow in your mouth if your teeth aren’t cleaned regularly. In fact, this bacteria can start to form plaque on your teeth as early as 20 minutes after eating.
So, when proper oral hygiene practices are not followed, it can lead to various health problems such as tooth decay, cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis, and even tooth loss.
Fortunately, most oral health problems can be prevented by taking good care of your teeth. This includes brushing and flossing teeth thoroughly twice a day and making regular visits to your dentist.
Encouraging your children to practice proper oral hygiene at an early age is critical to ensure they develop lifelong healthy habits and maintain their oral health as they enter adulthood.
And don’t forget to schedule regular checkups with your dentist to ensure everything is in proper working order and to address any issues that may arise.