As a parent, you are responsible for instilling good habits into your children, helping them grow into healthy and responsible adults. While it sounds simple, the task is not always easy when dealing with little humans whose brains are still developing and can’t always grasp logic and reason. However, mouth health is absolutely not something that should ever be compromised as dental health is a major part of a person’s overall well-being. That means that many parents are facing dental-related challenges at home from the time their children are tiny toddlers to tumultuous teenagers. While the scary stigma surrounding visiting the dentist is something that hygienists are still trying to tackle even with modern day advancements making checkups and procedures painless and comfortable, there are preventative measures you can take to ensure your children will have adequate long-term mouth health.
The Journal of Dental Research conducted a study that shows that parents with poor dental hygiene are likely to pass their dental issues on to their offspring. This study, which went on for 27 years, followed more than 1,000 children in New Zealand from the time they were five years old until they were thirty-two, About half of the children whose mothers had very poor oral health had severe tooth decay, and four out of ten children had adult tooth loss present. Scientists have determined that there are genetic and environmental factors that can affect the health of a child’s teeth throughout their development, but the overall knowledge on proper hygiene is essentially passed down from parent to child. This means that it’s important to make your children aware of the importance of their teeth and oral health from an early age to prepare them for a lifetime of proper care.
Get Your Own Teeth Checked
If you are still in the stages of family planning or already a parent, set a good example for your children by taking care of your own teeth. If you’ve neglected yourself for a period of time due to financial or familial constraints, it’s important to take some time to make sure you have a clean bill of health. Being a parent isn’t easy, and there are never enough hours in the day to make sure your children are taken care of, let alone worrying about yourself- but this could lead to trouble down the road! Think of dental care as part of self-care and make an appointment for a check-up and cleaning. Many clinics offer dental plans and programs that can help you save hundreds on potential procedures if your insurance does not provide dental coverage. It’s important to take this step because poor oral health can also lead to other scary medical conditions like heart disease or deadly infection. If you haven’t been in a long time, don’t fret. Your dentist is not there to judge you or ridicule you; they want to help get you back on track and on the road to a healthy smile so you can set the right example for your children to do the same.
Child’s First Checkup
Your child should see a dentist before their first birthday as a preventative step that will save you tons of money and stress in the future. Making sure that your child’s gums, teeth, and overall oral health are on track is crucial in making sure that their overall bodies are healthy since a lot of things can happening in the mouth. Babies tend to use their mouths as a way to explore the world early on, exposing their teeth and gums to potential dangers and harm, especially as baby teeth begin to grow in and perforate their gums, leaving them sometimes exposed to potential infections. Getting in touch with a hygienist can help you make sure that everything is going the way it should. Also, it’s a great way to give your child positive and reinforcing experiences at the dentist, potentially avoiding any phobias or disdain for checkups as they grow up, making your life much easier in the long run. As an added bonus, a CDC report shows that average dental costs are about 40% lower over a five year period for parents whose child has seen a dentist by the age of five.
Start Habits Early
- Even though baby teeth won’t grow in for months, start your baby’s oral health routine early on by massaging their gums with a soft washcloth or baby toothbrush made especially for infants and toddlers. Not only with this help get them used to having their teeth brushed later on, but it can also help stimulate gums during teething which can be soothing.
- Prevent baby bottle decay by only giving your child water in their bottle when they go to bed. Any other liquids containing sugars can cause the mouth to harbor decay-causing bacteria in their mouths that can cling to teeth and gums.
- Once baby teeth appear, be sure to brush them twice a day with an infant toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste every day. Just be careful not to overdo the fluoride early on in order to prevent fluorosis. Speak with your dentist about the best way to go about this.
- Once your child has teeth that are touching close together, it’s time to introduce flossing, There are various methods to getting started, but feel free to ask your hygienist to give you a quick tutorial to avoid frustration.
- Make sure you’re not giving your child any food or drink once they’ve brushed and flossed. Any sugar or food particles that enter the mouth after that will sit on their teeth overnight, potentially leading to cavities and bacteria growth.
- Teach children how to use mouthwash; it can be especially helpful with young children who are just beginning to brush on their own. It can help eliminate bacteria they may be missing when learning the ins and outs of brushing.
Proper oral care starts with you, the parent. Every step you take to teach your children that teeth are an important part of the body that need special attention every day, at least twice a day.