Healthy teeth are hugely important, not just because of the way they look. Unhealthy teeth can lead to a whole host of problems, from other diseases of the mouth, to low self-esteem, to poor nutrition if they affect your ability to eat.
Good dental hygiene begins in childhood. Helping your kids develop healthy habits will set them up for life (and save a lot of pain and money down the road!). Here are our five top tips to help parents keep their children's teeth healthy.
1. Teach Healthy Habits Early
One of the most important things you can do is teach your kids the importance of keeping their teeth clean. Doing this as early as possible makes it a normal part of life, and forming good habits early makes them more likely to stick.
A huge part of this is what we like to call a "monkey see, monkey do" philosophy. The best way to encourage your kids to brush their teeth twice a day is to make sure they see you practicing good oral hygiene. Doing this from an early age will normalize a healthy habit and set your child up for long-term oral health.
Obviously, it's also important to teach your kids how to thoroughly brush and floss their teeth, and take them to visit a dentist from a young age. The dentist should be seen as a good thing, or at least just a routine part of life.
2. Monitor Sugar Intake
Sugar is a particularly big problem for kids. They are constantly tempted with multi-colored sweets in exciting packaging that is designed to be as appealing as possible. This, coupled with the addition of large amounts of sugar added to common foods and drinks, has led to an alarming rate of cavities in American kids. The CDC says that cavities are the most common chronic disease of children aged 6-19, with over 90% of American adults having some form of tooth decay.
Although some treatments, such as professional cleaning and the use of fluoridated water and toothpaste, can help with this, it's important to ensure that children are eating no more than the healthy amount of sugar. Many people may not realize just how little that healthy amount is. Did you know that one can of Pepsi contain more than the recommended daily amount of sugar for an adult?
3. Make Oral Healthcare Fun
Incorporating a bit of fun is another great way to get your child to keep healthy. Turning tooth brushing into a game with young kids is helpful to keep them engaged and may even lead to them looking forward to playing games with their family. Another great tip for making sure your kids brush for the recommended two minutes twice a day is to play their favourite pop-song as a timer. These are generally about 2-3 minutes long... and hey, a little extra won't do any harm!
4. Add Plenty of Vitamins and Minerals
Long-term oral health requires a good solid foundation. If your child's teeth don't form properly, they'll be much more susceptible to dental issues as an adult. That's why it's so important to make sure that your child receives all the correct nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, while their teeth are forming.
This actually starts from the time they're in the womb. Teeth don't show until after a baby is born, but the basic substance of teeth actually start developing about six weeks into a pregnancy, and the hard tissue surrounding them forms at the start of the second trimester. That's one of the reasons it's so important for expectant moms to maintain a healthy diet, with plenty of vitamins and minerals, including lots of calcium to help the baby's teeth form correctly.
It's also why it's worth fighting the good fight and making sure your kids always eat their greens. Strong, healthy teeth are worth their weight in gold.
5. Make Sure You Visit a Family Dentist
It's also really important to make sure that your child's teeth are forming properly and erupting as they should. Look for a dental practice that specializes in kids and families, because they'll be able to make sure the experience is a positive one. Scheduling regular visits will ensure any issues are spotted and corrected early. It will also help your child learn that visiting the dentist is a normal part of life.
Here at South Anchorage Dental Center, we love kids! We're equipped to deal with a wide variety of dental problems for you and your family. We also offer our Dental Savings Plan which covers regular cleanings and check-ups, and includes significant discounts for treatments. If you want to learn more about our services or make an appointment, you can contact us here.