Dental health is integral to child development as it sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth, gums, and oral health. As parents, we are responsible for teaching children the proper dental practices that will continue into adulthood. This post will discuss the seven healthy dental habits that are encouraged for children.
- Brushing Teeth Daily – Teaching kids to brush their teeth twice daily is essential for their dental health. It also establishes lifelong good dental care habits from an early age. Parents should guide kids on how to brush correctly, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brushing for at least 2 minutes, or a general rule is a minute per arch. Children with braces should brush a bit longer, for about 3.5 minutes, to ensure a thorough cleaning. Parents should supervise brushing sessions until age 6, or even longer if a child lacks manual dexterity. To make brushing fun, let the child pick the toothbrush and toothpaste with their favorite colors or characters.
- Flossing Daily – Don’t forget to floss! Flossing removes food and plaque between teeth and along the gums where brushing is hard to reach. Show your kids the right way to floss to ensure healthier teeth and gums. While traditional floss works well, floss picks can be a fun and easier option for smaller children. Make flossing a part of their daily routine to keep their teeth and gums healthy and strong.
- Replacing Old Toothbrushes – Remember to change toothbrushes every 3 months! Over time, toothbrushes wear out, become less effective in cleaning teeth, and can harbor bacteria. Replacing a regular or electric toothbrush head every three months is important. Show your kids how to check for signs of wear, like frayed bristles, to know when it’s time for a new one. Let them pick a new toothbrush in their favorite color or beloved character, turning the task into an exciting experience.
- Limiting Sugary Foods and Drinks – Sugar significantly contributes to tooth decay and cavities, leading to dental problems and discomfort. You can encourage your child to avoid or limit sugary foods and drinks by opting for healthier alternatives like fruit, veggies, unsweetened juice, or water. While occasional treats are fine, avoiding excessive amounts of candy, soda, or other sugary delights is essential. If they indulge in a sugary treat, remind them to brush their teeth afterward to minimize the impact on their dental health.
- Protecting Teeth From Injury – Kids are naturally active, so protecting their teeth from damage is crucial, especially during sports activities. Mouthguards play a significant role in keeping their precious smiles safe from harm. Encourage your child to wear a mouthguard when engaging in high-contact sports or physical activity. These protective shields prevent tooth fractures and injuries to the lips, tongue, or jaw. Choose a mouthguard that fits properly and is comfortable to wear.
- Regular Dental Checkups – Regular dental checkups are crucial for keeping dental health in check. Dentists recommend visiting for checkups at least once a year, ideally twice a year. These visits are necessary for preventing dental issues and ensuring early detection of any problems. Preparing children for these dental appointments helps make them more comfortable. During checkups, the dentist will check for cavities, clean their teeth, and may take x-rays. Additionally, they will offer advice on maintaining good dental health and assessing your child’s brushing and flossing skills. With regular checkups, you can ensure your child’s teeth stay strong and healthy for years to come.
- Leading by example – As parents, we significantly influence our children’s habits, including dental care. Kids learn best by seeing what we do, so let’s lead by example. Make sure to brush and floss your teeth regularly, and show your child that dental health is essential in your family. Involve your child by creating a morning routine together, making it a shared and positive experience. Emphasize that caring for their teeth is a form of self-care and investment in their well-being. This way, we set the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles and happy dental visits for our children.
Have more questions about dental care for your little ones?
If you have more questions or need personalized guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule an appointment with our trusted pediatric dentist, Dr. Farooq. Let’s work together to create a lifetime of confident smiles and joyful dental experiences!