Teaching your child the importance of practicing quality oral hygiene at a young age is a solid investment in his or her long-term oral health that will pay off for an entire lifetime. You can start the process by setting an example; taking the time to properly care for your own teeth and gums sends kids the message that oral health is something to be valued. While this may seem like a small gesture, anything that helps to make brushing fun, like brushing along with your child or letting him choose his own toothbrush, can encourage a better appreciation for practicing quality oral hygiene.
To help your kids protect their oral health and to significantly reduce the risk of them developing tooth decay and gum disease, teach them to follow these simple steps.
Brush twice a day. The American Dental Association recommends that children and adults brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. The best times to brush are once in the morning right after waking and again just before bed. Make sure your child uses an ADA approved toothpaste that contains fluoride in order to remove plaque and prevent decay.
Floss daily. Many in the field of oral health actually consider flossing as more important than brushing. Flossing removes bacteria and lingering food particles from between teeth and under the gum line, two places a toothbrush just cannot reach. Young children don’t possess the manual dexterity to properly brush or floss, so parents should handle both of these habits until their kids turn six or seven – roughly the age kids can first start to tie their own shoes.
Eat a well-balanced diet. As a general rule, foods that are bad for the waistline are also pretty bad for teeth. Diets high in sugar and starchy foods provide plaque, a sticky biofilm, with plenty of fuel to produce acid that eats away at tooth enamel and causes decay. Limiting how much of these types of foods you and your kids consume will help to reduce the amount of damage plaque can cause to the health of the family’s teeth and gums.
When you decide to indulge the family with a sweet treat, try to make it part of a larger meal instead of as a snack. The extra saliva the mouth produces during larger meals helps to wash plaque acid and lingering food particles away instead of letting them linger for long period of time.
Drink plenty of water. In addition to helping you stay hydrated and keeping your mouth moist, drinking water generally means your or your kids aren’t drinking soda or artificially sweetened fruit juice. The sugar and high acidity of these types of beverages combine to tag team the health of teeth. The sugar causes plaque acid to attack, while the acidity of these beverages weakens tooth enamel, allowing the plaque acids the chance to do even more damage.
Schedule regular checkups with Drs. G and Mo
Brushing, flossing and eating a balanced diet can go a long way toward protecting your kids’ oral health. But to ensure they enjoy healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime, kids need to receive regular dental checkups and exams. Because a child’s oral health is still developing, it’s even more important they receive regular dental care than adults whose teeth are fully formed.
Follow these steps and your kids will keep smiling great in family photos for years to come.