As a parent, one of your biggest responsibilities other than protecting your kids from potentially harmful situations is to ensure that they develop sustainable healthy habits from an early age. Teaching your kids how to practice proper oral hygiene on a regular basis is an important aspect of taking care of their health. If you’re unsure where to begin, consult your family dentist for in-depth dental care tips and continue reading this article for a few simple ideas you can use at home.
How to Instill Healthy Dental Care Habits in Your Kids
Teaching or talking to your kids about the importance of incorporating healthy dental care habits into their daily routines is one thing, but actually practicing what you preach is a far more effective method for many reasons. First, it guarantees your own overall physical health. Second, by depicting a shining example of good dental health to your kids you’re also inadvertently encouraging and inspiring them to take an active interest in their health. Children are very impressionable and when they see someone they admire and respect, such as a parent or guardian behaving a certain way they’ll typically try to mimic that behaviour. So, make sure you’re setting the best possible example for your children and working towards instilling healthy habits in your kids from an early age. Here are a few simple ideas you can implement in your child’s daily life to guarantee good oral health for them.
Encourage Them to Rinse Their Mouths or Chew Gum After Meals
Food particles immediately become lodged within the small grooves between your teeth while you’re consuming a meal and the longer they stay there, the higher the risk of developing periodontal infections, cavities, or gingivitis. Rinsing out your mouth immediately after a meal can help to remove the majority of those food particles in between brushing and flossing sessions. If you’re unable to rinse out your mouth throughout the day, then chewing sugar-free gum is also a good idea because it promotes saliva production within your mouth which prevents it from drying out and collecting more bacteria.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Aside from the obvious health benefits of maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, there are numerous reasons why you should be teaching your kids to maintain a good diet that consists of limited quantities of refined sugars and other unhealthy substances. There’s a lot of truth to the saying “too much sugar will rot your teeth”. Certain foods have high acidity levels that can deteriorate the natural protective layer of enamel on your teeth and cause food particles to get stuck in the small grooves between your teeth. Eventually, the harmful bacteria from these food particles will erode and penetrate the surface of your gums, causing them to recede and become inflamed over time.
Teach Your Kids Proper Brushing and Flossing Techniques
A lot of parents are under the mistaken impression that there’s no way of practicing good dental care techniques for infants whose baby teeth haven’t grown in yet, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In actuality, you should be wiping your infant’s gums with a warm, clean and damp cloth at least twice a day to prevent bacterial infections. You can start gently brushing and flossing your children’s teeth for them when they first develop with a soft bristled brush until they’re about five or six. During this time, you should also be teaching them the proper brushing and flossing techniques. Tell them not to press too hard with the toothbrush and to brush in slow, circular motions. The whole brushing process should take about two to three minutes to ensure that they’re adequately reaching every possible crevice within their mouths from end to end. Of course, there are certain areas in which simply brushing falls short and that’s where flossing comes in. Flossing allows you to reach areas within your mouth that are typically inaccessible to a regular toothbrush and it removes stubborn food particles, preventing them from developing harmful bacteria within your mouth.
Schedule Regular Dental Visits
The average person should schedule dental checkups and cleanings at least once every four to six months to prevent tooth decay, maintain good oral health, and promote early detection of potential oral health issues. As a parent, you’re responsible for scheduling routine dental appointments for your children until they become teenagers or young adults. This is a habit you should instill in them from a young age. Get them used to visiting the dentist a few times a year and try to eradicate any potential dentophobia before it develops. Don’t ever threaten to punish your child with a visit to the dentist and don’t tease them for being afraid of the dentist because this fear can easily bleed into their adulthood and prevent them from going to the dentist later on in life. Try to reassure them as much as possible that there’s nothing to be afraid of and the dentist is there to help them. It might even help if you remain in the room with them during their checkup or cleaning. Remember the very first visit to the dentist should occur when the first tooth appears or they turn one year old.
Teach Your Kids about the Consequences of Poor Oral Hygiene
It’s important to teach your kids about the possible negative impact that poor oral hygiene can inflict upon them in a sensitive way. The goal isn’t to scare them, but to make them understand the consequences of not taking care of their teeth. Explain to them that if they don’t practice good oral hygiene techniques, they’re increasing their risk of developing tooth decay and other related issues.
At Princeview Dental Group, one of our top priorities is to help our patients instill healthy dental habits in their kids by providing them with the right educational tools and materials to do so. As a dental clinic located in the heart of the Kingsway neighbourhood in Etobicoke, we understand how difficult it can be for first-time parents to learn and practice critical dental hygiene processes for their kids. If you have any questions about how to care for your infant or toddler’s teeth, contact us today to schedule an appointment.