Teaching children good oral habits can be a struggle, but good pediatric oral care is crucial to your children’s overall health. Healthy adult teeth begin with healthy kid’s teeth.
Take good care of your child’s teeth. Although they eventually fall out, baby teeth play a crucial role in helping your child bite, chew, and speak clearly. These are some good pediatric oral care tips to teach your child:
Brushing and Flossing
Parents should help brush their children’s teeth until the age of eight and assist in flossing until the age of ten, according to the AAPD. Having health teeth build confidence and participation in your child’s education and social life. Encouraging healthy habits can be difficult if your child won’t cooperate, but here are some ways to make brushing fun.
- Buy children’s toothpaste with your child’s favorite character on it. Let your child pick it out so they are more likely to use it when the brush.
- Create a reward chart that your child can add stickers to when they’ve brushed each morning and night. When the chart is full, let your child have a small reward like a trip to the playground or their favorite meal for dinner.
- Have a brushing song. Let your child pick out a song to play when they brush their teeth. This will make brushing more fun and ensure your child is brushing for the appropriate length of time.
- Using a light-up timer toothbrush can be fun for children. The light flashes until they brushed for the correct length of time. Interactive toothbrushes are a good way for your child to be involved in their oral health habits.
Offering healthy, tooth-friendly food options to your child will help encourage healthy teeth and build good oral habits. Provide fruits, nuts, vegetables, and cheese for snack instead of cookies or sweets. Children may need encouragement to try these foods, but these tips can help:
- Let your child pick out healthy snacks. Have your child go to the store with you and pick out healthy fruits and snacks so they are more willing to eat it at snacktime.
- Share and “feed” the health snack to your child’s favorite toy. They will be more willing to try a new food or eat fruit if they can share it with someone else first.
- Have healthy snacks be convenient. A hungry child won’t want to wait for you to slice an apple or wash and cut grapes. Having these snacks prepared in an easy-to-reach container or bowl in the fridge makes having healthy snacks a breeze.
- Save starchy foods for mealtime. Eating them in conjunction with other foods and beverages reduces the risk of cavities, as opposed to eating them as a snack.
Sweets, juice, and candy can cause cavities because they eat away at the tooth’s enamel. Here are some tips to help reduce sugar and combat the effects of sugar on your child’s teeth:
- Limit candy and sugary desserts for after mealtime. This is when there is the most saliva in the mouth to help protect your child’s teeth.
- Store candy from holidays like Easter and Halloween in a sealed container and create specific times for when your child can have a treat. This will pace the amount of sugar they consume.
- Encourage your child to drink more water to help prevent tooth decay. Water with fluoride can reduce the number of cavities children get in their baby teeth.
- Floss after eating sweets. Flossing helps remove tiny particles that get stuck in your child’s teeth, which cause cavities.
Lead By Example
Kids follow by example, so it is important to be a good role model and demonstrate good oral habits for them. Brush and floss with your child instead of having them do it alone. Treat it like a routine instead of a chore they have to do.
By practicing healthy oral habits, your children will see your actions and it will translate into their lives. Show them that it can be fun and important to your overall health.
Serve Milk at Meals
Drinking milk acts as a buffer to the acid that causes tooth decay. The enzymes in the dairy protect the teeth from oral bacteria that contributes toward tooth decay and erosion of tooth enamel.
Teaching your children proper oral health habits can be easy – it’s putting it into practice that can be difficult. However, teaching children how to care for their teeth will set them up for good oral habits they will carry into adulthood.
Dr. Elliott A. Schwartz, Pediatric Dentist at Toronto Children’s Dentist is part of the Altima Dental Family of Clinics for children’s dental needs.