As parents we understand the importance of good dental habits and do our best to pass that onto our children. And healthy adult teeth start with healthy kids teeth!
Keeping kids cavity-free is the ultimate goal, after all, poor dental health impacts more than just your pocketbook and their smiles. In fact, a California Society of Pediatric Dentistry study found:
“Untreated dental disease compromises the child’s ability to eat well, sleep well, and function well at home and at school. The unaesthetic nature of untreated dental decay compromises the child’s self-esteem and social development.” Source: The Consequences of Untreated Dental Disease in Children
How To Keep Kids Teeth Healthy
Unfortunately, many of these adverse effects of an unhealthy smile extend long after childhood, and what better time than National Children’s Dental Health Month , to share some tips for keeping kids teeth healthy
- Be a role model. Kids like to imitate those around them, so be a good role model and demonstrate good oral health habits for them. Brush and floss with your kids, rather than sending them into the bathroom on their own. Instead of treating it as a chore, make it part of the daily routine.
- Teach them. Show kids under age 3 how to use a rice-size amount of toothpaste. Once kids are able to understand how to spit, rather than swallow the paste, they can use a pea-size amount. When teeth have grown to touch each other, kids can floss and rinse with mouthwash daily.
- Keep dental appointments. Keep a regular routine of visiting the dentist twice a year, and involve your children. By keeping your appointments, you make it a normal activity, and they will make it a ritual. Your child should have their first dental appointment within 6 months of their first tooth or their first birthday, whichever comes first, and then twice a year after that.
- Talk. Talk to your kids about what they can expect at the dentist. At their dental visit, talk to your dentist about any concerns you have such as crowding, thumb sucking, losing teeth, mouth guards, and whatever else concerns you. .
- Eat healthy foods. Avoiding sugary drinks and foods not only helps overall health but it can create a discussion about cavities. When sugar is allowed to sit on your teeth, it can create decay, and we all want healthy, strong teeth to enjoy the things we love.
- Brush. Brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes is recommended, yet not always achieved. Set a timer and use a tartar dye if desired to be sure all the teeth surfaces are reached and that brushing has happened long enough to be effective at removing plaque. There are apps available to make brushing and caring for your teeth fun.
- Consider Sealants. For healthy kids teeth, talk to your dentist about the option of having your child’s teeth sealed. Sealants can help prevent cavities and resulting fillings.
- Use Rewards. Let kids choose their own toothbrush (within reason) and consider a goal chart to track their progress on a goal that leads to a reward such as going to a movie, or taking a trip to the toy store.
- Don’t share germs. Don’t share utensils, sippy cups, bottles, pacifiers or other items with your kids or allow them to be shared with others. Bacteria in our mouths can be passed to each other and isn’t healthy. Be sure to sanitize all items that may be in your baby’s mouth to prevent bacterial infections such as thrush.
Healthy Kids Teeth Goals
Ultimately, it should be your goal to build the foundation for your family to achieve healthy teeth from childhood and beyond. Jump start those lifetime habits by making these healthy kids teeth goals:
- Avoid Sugary Foods
- Brush Twice a Day
- Floss and mouth rinse daily (per age appropriateness)
- Visit the dentist twice a year
- Make oral health a fun habit!
Healthy kids teeth start with good parenting and a great dentist! Find one near you today.