Let’s say that you just spotted your child’s first baby teeth. How exciting! However, those tiny teeth present a new challenge for parents: providing your kids with the proper dental care. It’s time for Children’s Dental Care 101.
Forming Healthy Brushing Habits
As video games and cartoons stretch children’s attention spans thinner and thinner, the last thing kids want to do is brush and floss their teeth. Therefore, teaching your children the importance of caring for their teeth should be your top priority. For younger children, our free coloring book can help keep your kids motivated.
Healthy brushing habits present three main challenges for children:
- Brushing for long enough. It’s important that children brush their teeth for at least two minutes. However, music can be a great tool to keep kids brushing for long enough. Try teaching your child a catchy, two-minute song to hum while brushing, or buy them a musical toothbrush. When the music stops, they can retake their seat too close to the TV.
- Brushing correctly. Rather than brushing their mouths in haphazard strokes, children should learn the importance of brushing in small circles on the fronts, tops, and backs of their teeth. Demonstrate good brushing for your children, and feel free to make the demonstration fun!
- Falling into bad habits. Once bad habits form, they can be hard for children to correct. Therefore, consider supervising your children as they brush and floss. Brushing your own teeth at the same time as your child will make this feel like fun time with mom or dad rather than guard duty.
Avoiding Sugary Drinks and Foods
While occasional treats are okay, limiting the amount of sugar in your kids’ drinks and foods is crucial to protecting their young teeth. Sugars corrode tooth enamel, leading to painful cavities. Soda does the most damage, of course, but hidden sugars in juices and milk can do damage as well.
In particular, avoid giving your child juice or milk right before they go to bed. The sugar in these beverages will linger on your children’s teeth throughout the night, producing acids that erode their enamel.
Likewise, sticky candies, like gummies or caramel, adhere to their teeth and damage the enamel over time. Candies that dissolve more quickly, like chocolate, can make your children happy while preventing excess damage.
Protecting Your Children’s Teeth at School
For school-age children, parents should be aware of a few extra ways that they can protect their children’s teeth:
- Brushing after each meal, including lunch, can make a huge impact on the health of your children’s teeth. If possible, ask your children to brush their teeth after lunch. Otherwise, try sending your children to school with floss or brush-picks.
- Packing lunches at home can also give you control over the amount of sugar your child consumes at school. Vending machines still pose a problem for parents, but providing children with food they love might deter them from sodas and other tempting snacks.
- For young athletes, mouth guards are critical to protecting their fragile teeth. Not only should mouth guards be worn at all times during sports, but you should also make sure that the mouth guard is the right size for your child. Otherwise, mouth guards can cause damage to your athlete’s sensitive gums.
Taking Your Child to the Dentist
Once baby teeth appear, your child should begin making twice a year visits to the dentist. These regular visits can prevent the formation of cavities and motivate your children to take great care of their teeth between visits. Your dentist will also provide your children with dental sealants, giving them extra protection for years to come.
Visits to the dentist can be scary for many young children. My Family Dentistry strives to provide your child with a fun, friendly environment that they can look forward to visiting. Dr. Mullins has years of experience working with children of all ages and can keep your children’s teeth healthy and clean for all those school photos and family portraits.
Contact us to find out more about the services we offer for families of any size, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for special announcements and events.
In the meantime, you and your kids can enjoy the special activity book we created just for you!