When you have a child, you’re responsible for making sure that they have great oral health. It’s easy to forget that children need to be taught how to care for their teeth, especially because you’ve been doing it on your own for decades.
Taking care of your child’s teeth isn’t difficult, but you want to make sure that you do it right. That’s why we’re here to help.
Keep reading to learn all about helping your child with their dental hygiene and setting them up for a future of great dental health.
Start Earlier Than You’d Think
Did you know that most dentists recommend that you bring your child to their first dentist’s appointment before they’re one year old? Too many parents skip this important health checkup because they’re preoccupied with standard pediatric checkups and vaccines, but it’s important!
You might think that it doesn’t matter, but even that first tooth is crucial for your child’s oral health. A dentist will be able to tell you how to take care of that initial baby tooth as well as your child’s gums.
You’ll be brushing the gums with a gentle toothbrush until all of your child’s teeth grow in.
Some parents are under the impression that baby teeth aren’t as important as permanent teeth. While it’s true that your child will have a full mouth of replacement teeth by the time they’re in their teens, they should still take care of their baby teeth.
Cavities and gum disease can start at any time, and gum disease has no cure. Starting early will protect your child.
Teach Good Brushing Habits
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to teach your child good brushing habits. They don’t know how long or how often to brush their teeth until someone informs them.
When they’re old enough to start brushing their teeth on their own, brush with them. Even if it’s not time for you to brush your teeth, modeling good oral health behavior will teach them how to do it right.
For you to model good behavior, you need to know it. Do you know how to brush your teeth the right way?
Start by flossing. You should floss once per day before you brush your teeth at night. Flossing dislodges any food or grime that’s accumulated between your teeth throughout the day so it’s easier for the brush to wash it away.
You should brush at least twice per day. Each brushing session should last for two minutes. This might seem like a long time, but this ensures that you have time to brush all of your pearly whites as well as your tongue.
If your child struggles to brush as long as they’re supposed to, try making it fun by using an app or their favorite songs. There are plenty of great apps that turn brushing your teeth into a game.
Go to Regular Checkups
As we mentioned before, your child’s first visit to a dentist should be before their first birthday (and preferably as soon as their first tooth erupts). This ensures that they’ll have a healthy future. You should also make sure that you’re going to regular dentist’s appointments though.
One of the reasons you want to stay consistent with dentist’s appointments is that you want to prevent dental anxiety. If your child knows that going to the dentist is just part of life, they’re less likely to get scared. Frequent dental appointments also help prevent more painful procedures such as fillings, so your child won’t have anything to be afraid of.
When you go to regular checkups, your child’s dentist can see any early warning signs of problems to come and they can give you advice on how to improve your child’s oral health.
Not all children will need orthodontic work, but many will.
Too many people think that orthodontia is just for aesthetics, but this isn’t true. When your child has teeth that are too crowded or a bite that’s misaligned, it can lead to future oral health issues.
Children may have trouble brushing, flossing, or even eating if they have significant issues with crowding.
For children, most orthodontists will recommend traditional metal braces. While other options, like clear aligners, are growing in popularity, metal braces are easy for children. Because so many children have them, they won’t stick out while they’re in school.
Make sure that you encourage your child to wear their retainer if you want them to bring their straight teeth into adulthood.
Change Their Diet
You’re responsible for your child’s diet (for the most part). Are you setting them up for a healthy mouth or paving the way for cavities?
It’s okay for children to have sweet snacks from time to time. After all, even some popular “healthy” snacks have a lot of sugar (like fruit or cereal). That said, you should try to minimize the amount of sugar that your child eats.
When you eat too much sugar, bacteria thrive in your mouth. Teeth start to form plaque and that plaque hardens into tartar.
This can lead to tooth decay and even tooth loss.
Luckily for your child, you’re there to make sure that their diet is healthy. There are plenty of tasty substitutions for popular sugary foods. For example, you can opt for peanut butter with no added sugar when you make their PB&J sandwiches, or choose salty snacks.
If your child is eating sugar, pick a time where they’re going to brush their teeth right after, like breakfast or dinner.
Protect Your Child’s Teeth With These Tips
It’s your job to teach your child how to take care of their oral health. If you follow these tips, you’ll protect your child’s teeth and set them up for a future of great dental health.
Help your child flash their pearly whites!
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