Believe it or not, more than one in four Americans has untreated tooth decay.
Poor dental hygiene can lead to a number of serious problems. Beyond losing their teeth, adults with gum disease may also experience an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
The best way to ensure that your family remains in good oral health is to start teaching your children good dental habits while they’re young.
But how can you make sure that your kiddos will keep their teeth healthy throughout their lives?
Let’s take a look.
Make Brushing Time Fun
Have fun with your little ones when it’s time to brush. Let them pick out a cool toothbrush and flavored toothpaste so they enjoy brushing more.
You can set a timer to make sure that your child brushes for the right amount of time. Meanwhile, have a fun song that you sing or play on your phone that makes the time enjoyable.
Tell jokes and make dental hygiene time something your child looks forward to. As they get older, they won’t view tooth-brushing as a chore, but as a refreshing part of their routine.
Choose a Pediatric Dentist
Many kids enjoy going to the dentist because their parents chose a specialist trained in treating young patients. Their office is designed to make the experience positive for kids.
There may be video games in the waiting room or cartoons for kids to watch while they are being treated. They may get to choose from fun toothpaste in flavors like cotton candy or chocolate.
Some pediatric dentistry offices may have brightly colored murals on the walls or prizes kids can pick from when they leave. They may also offer special sedative techniques to keep children comfortable.
In order to become a pediatric dentist, a professional must complete four years of dental school education, along with 2-3 years of specialized pediatric dentistry training. Here, they learn about things like child development, psychology, and special needs patients.
A pediatric dentist is specially trained to meet the unique needs of children. They will know all about common problems and how to make your little one feel at ease.
Your child should go to the dentist at least once every six months. They will need things like cleanings, X-rays, and fluoride treatments. Your dentist will also know when to recommend that your child visit an orthodontist for further dental treatment.
Read Books and Watch Shows About the Dentist
It can be scary for kids to visit the dentist for the first time. Choose a book or TV show about a child or talking animal that visits the dentist, learns about their teeth, and has a wonderful experience. It can help your child to feel optimistic about the trip.
Talk to Them About What to Expect
It helps to walk your child through the steps they’ll be taking when they’re at the dentist. You can also play a game where you pretend to be the dentist and practice your visit.
Your child’s first trip should be by the age of 12 months, or when their first tooth starts to erupt. The visit will include a full exam and gentle cleaning.
If you take your child for a visit when they’re older, they will have X-rays taken to make sure that there are no cavities between teeth. Your dentist may also recommend a sealant, which will keep bacteria from settling into tooth grooves.
Talk to your child about the entire process so there will be no surprises when they’re getting treated. Practice everything from the receptionist’s desk to the take-home toothbrush so your child can be excited about the visit.
Model Good Dental Practices
If you complain every time you have to go to the dentist or neglect to brush your teeth, your kids will notice and follow your example. Be sure to show them that you’re cheerfully keeping up with your routine. If your children are younger, narrate what you’re doing while you brush, spit and rinse.
If your children are a bit older, let them know when you’re going to the “grown-up dentist.” Let them see you brushing and flossing to keep your teeth healthy and strong. As they get older, they will remember.
Encourage Healthy Eating
Healthy eating habits are an important part of helping your children maintain strong teeth. Sugary foods like candy and soft drinks are harmful.
When kids chew, the sugar creates acids that can erode tooth enamel. And cavities can form due to a bacterial infection caused by those acids.
Foods like potato chips are full of starch, which can become sugar. This can get trapped in between teeth and feed the bacteria in plaque.
Most kiddos love sugar and chips, but it’s important to only allow them occasionally.
Meanwhile, teach kids to enjoy eating foods that are good for their teeth. These include fiber-rich fruits and veggies, which get saliva flowing and reduce the effects of acids and enzymes that attack your teeth. It also contains calcium, which strengthens the enamel on the outer shell of your teeth.
Other calcium-rich foods include milk, cheese, and yogurt. Your littles can also get it from green veggies, almonds, and fortified foods.
Serve healthy foods in fun-sized packs or in colorful dishes so kids will learn to appreciate and ask for them. They will continue eating in healthy ways throughout their lives.
Teaching Kids Dental Hygiene
Dental hygiene is critical to the long-term health of children. With the right approach and the right dentist, your child could be on their way to a healthful mouth in no time.
Don’t stop getting smart about your child’s teeth. For qualified pediatric dentists in the Fort Worth area, contact us today.