Being a good parent means teaching your children good life skills from an early age. Instilling good dental hygiene in your kids is just one small but significant part of that. To ensure that your kids develop good dental hygiene habits and routines as they get older you need to start showing them how to take care of their dental and oral health when they’re still young.
If you’re a first-time parent, then you’re most likely just starting to learn the ropes. You probably also have a lot of questions and concerns regarding your child’s dental health. Of course, dental hygiene facts and research are constantly evolving. Even if you think you know everything there is to know, it still helps to discuss your child’s dental health with your family dentist. With that in mind, here are the top things new and experienced parents need to know about their kids’ dental hygiene.
Poor Dental Health Increases the Risk of Developing Heart Disease in Kids
You might think that heart disease is only a concern for adults, but actually it can start to develop at a very young age and is most prevalent in people who develop poor dental and oral health habits. Failing to take care of your child’s teeth and teaching them good dental hygiene can cause excessive plaque buildup over long periods of time. Plaque buildup is the direct result of excess bacteria in the mouth that comes from leftover food particles and sugars from certain unhealthy beverages.
Over time, the plaque content in your child’s mouth will continue to accumulate and cause advanced gum disease such as gingivitis or periodontitis. Eventually, that plaque buildup on the teeth can extend to plaque buildup on the heart. Gum disease such as gingivitis causes a series of symptoms such as inflammation, redness of the gums, and bleeding gums. If left untreated for too long, gingivitis wears down the tooth enamel and causes tooth decay.
Aside from dental issues, gingivitis has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and stroke. All in all, taking care of your child’s teeth now may prevent serious health problems in the future.
Don’t Let Them Eat Too Much Junk Food
Every parent is already fully aware of the health perils of junk food. We all give into our kids’ demands for a sugary treat once in a while—and there’s no shame in that. But it’s important to limit the amount of junk food kids consume on a daily basis. It’s true what your mother and grandmother used to say. Too much sugar really can rot your teeth, especially if you don’t practice good oral hygiene on a regular basis.
Foods with high sugar content erode tooth enamel and cause excessive plaque buildup over time, which leads to cavities and advanced tooth decay. For that reason, it’s important to limit your kids’ sugar intake and encourage them to eat healthy as much as possible.
Thumb Sucking Causes Tooth Misalignment
Thumb and pacifier sucking are a normal part of childhood. Many children take on this habit as a way of comforting or soothing themselves when they’re feeling cranky or anxious. While it’s great for your child’s mental health, at some point this is a habit that they need to break to maintain their dental health.
Excessive thumb sucking and use of pacifiers can actually damage developing adult teeth and jaws and cause them to become misaligned. Luckily, most kids typically let go of this habit around age three. But if you notice that your child is persistently sucking their thumb past that age, then it may be time to look into alternative solutions that are equally soothing.
Childhood Dental Hygiene Habits Are for Life
Habits that you instill in your kids from a young age tend to stick with them well into adulthood and the rest of their lives. Dental health habits are no different. Teach your kids the importance and the basics of practicing good dental hygiene, so they can carry these skills with them as they get older.
Show them the proper way of brushing their teeth (moving the tooth brush gently away from the gum line, rather than in circles) and correct their form as much as possible. You should also encourage them to brush their teeth twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening—to prevent tooth decay. Teach them how to floss properly by gently moving the floss up and down between their teeth. Lastly, you should also encourage them to use a non-abrasive alcohol-free mouthwash and show them how to gargle and rinse their mouths out.
Make practicing good dental hygiene into a fun game, something you and your kids can do together, so they look forward to spending some quality time with you as they learn.
Too Much Fluoride Isn’t Good for Their Teeth
Fluoride is a substance that can be found in most commercial toothpastes and even in our drinking water. While fluoride helps strengthen and clean teeth, too much of it can actually be bad for your kids’ dental health.
Fluoride can be used as a topical substance through toothpaste or it can be ingested. Children between the ages of three and six should only be exposed to small amounts of fluoride—about the size of a pea—on a daily basis. An extreme excess of fluoride can cause weak enamel in developing teeth along with a condition called fluorosis (discolouration or white spots on the teeth).
Know When It’s Time to Let Them Take the Lead
When is the right time to start letting your kids take the lead on their dental hygiene? Many dentists recommend that the appropriate time to start letting kids brush their own teeth is around the same time they gain enough coordination to tie their shoelaces. For most kids, this is usually around age six or seven. At the same time, you should continue monitoring your child’s brushing and flossing skills to make sure they’re doing it right and not causing undue damage to their teeth and gums.
If you have any questions on children’s dentistry and how to encourage your kids to care for their teeth, contact the team at Princeview Dental Group today.