Oral Hygiene and Your Children
Proper oral hygiene habits and routines are not magically granted, they are developed. You can’t wave a magic want and wish for healthy routines. Many of you might not know that your oral health and overall health are directly related to one another. Since your oral health is directly related to your total health you can’t underestimate the importance of good oral hygiene. This is multiplied with your children. Habits develop at an early stage in life, whether good or bad. The sooner you spend time with you kids on the importance of dental health the easier it will be for them to maintain it in their futures.
On February 8th, 1949 The American Dental Association (ADA) began The Children’s Dental Health day. By 1981 the ADA extended the day into a full month, recognizing the importance of children’s dental health and focusing of teaching children about oral health in their lives. The month is also dedicated to the parents because practicing dental hygiene starts with the parents and how your children watch your habits. Below you will learn helpful information and routines to better place you in a position to protect your child’s smile.
Your Child Sees More Than You Think
In 2015 the BMC Oral Health conducted a study of children’s brushing and oral care behaviors. The research found that children’s habits and routines are directly related to their immediate families and upbringing. This might come as news to you but children soak up everything they see and this is how they begin to develop habits on their own. As a parent you hold certain responsibilities to focus on your child’s habits, including brushing, flossing, routines, supervision and confidence.
Fast Facts about Kids and Cavities
20% of children aged between 5 to 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
13% of teens aged between 12 to 19 have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
You can already start to see a pattern, the biggest threat to your children’s mouth are cavities. The good news about this information is that cavities are preventable and with proper care you can drastically reduce the chances of your child developing them. Below you will find some helpful methods for you and your kids to practice together in order to protect their smiles and oral health.
Kids and Brushing
Always make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, no exceptions. This is imperative for your children. When it comes to brushing your young child’s teeth it is recommended that you use a soft bristled toothbrush. You don’t want to run the risk of damaging their gums while they are still in development.
In the case of your infant child’s mouth, before their teeth have come in, you should be taking precautionary measures to protect their gums. After every feeding it is crucial that you gently clean your baby’s mouth. The best method for this is to use a damp, warm cloth to gently wipe their gums clean.
Within the first year of your child’s life they will begin to grow their first set of teeth. Research shows that baby teeth can decay, so the second you seem them coming in, start cleaning them gently.
It’s important to note that certain toothpastes aren’t recommended initially. While your child is learning to brush don’t use toothpastes that contain fluoride. While fluoride is the best paste for adults, it’s not recommended for children of a young age. If they were to accidentally swallow this could lead to a trip to the doctors. You want to be teaching them how to spit out paste at all costs. Also, be sure no to overdo the amount of toothpaste on the brush. Your children don’t need a lot of toothpaste to properly clean their mouths. The recommended amount for your children between the ages of 2 to 3 is less than a pea sized amount.
When it comes to the proper brushing techniques you’ll want to stick with the basics. Tiny circular motions, for two minutes, twice a day. The biggest areas you should be focusing on are the back molars which are more susceptible to cavities and ultimately decay. Be sure to change your child’s toothbrush every 2 to 3 months as well.
The more time you spend with your children on brushing habits and routines the more they will learn the importance of proper oral health. Don’t forget that your children are learning by watching you, so make sure that you are also applying the right techniques to your health as well. Don’t just teach by telling, teach by doing.
Complications with Flossing
Flossing doesn’t have to be complicated and it is far more important than you might know. While brushing your teeth consistently helps with the removal of plaque that collects on your enamel, it doesn’t get everything. Brushing alone doesn’t reach the hard to get places in between your teeth and within the pockets of your gums. This is why flossing is an absolute must for both you and your children. So be sure to spend the right amount of time flossing a day, which is twice.
Flossing and Young Children
Once again, it is recommended that you and your child visit your dentist before beginning to floss on your own. Under the supervision of a professional they can help you find the best ways to clean your child’s mouth without the danger of doing an additional harm to their gums or teeth. When it comes to young children, don’t guess, consult your dentist on the best practices for cleaning your child’s mouth.
A Proper Diet
Aside from brushing and flossing a proper diet plays a pivotal role in your child’s overall oral hygiene. Healthy, regulated eating habits help to prevent cavities, it’s all connected with one another. Certain foods or drinks, the longer you child lets them stay in their mouth, can begin to damage their teeth as a whole. With certain changes to their diets and eating patterns you can drastically reduce the chance of cavities and decay.
This is not an easy job to undertake. Children get into everything and sometimes they will test your patience and your fridge. Some helpful tips have detailed very interesting ways to teach better eating habits with children. Just like our brushing or flossing habits the way we eat isn’t that much different. It takes time to build healthy routines and children need as much help as possible while they are growing up.
Schedule regular snack and meal times, regulate constant snacking and eating patterns through the day. This allows your children to become used to a routine and subconsciously keeps them from going to the pantry or fridge every hour.
Another great example is the importance of drinking water. Do your best to avoid sugary drinks like soda or juice for every meal Obviously they are going to want soda or juice but unfortunately these drinks are packed with sugar, making them very harmful to the enamel on their teeth. If you are going to allow sweets every once in a while then it is recommended to incorporate them apart of a full meal, like dinner. Now this isn’t meant to stop you from completely cutting out all sweets, it’s meant for you to be more aware about the effects these types of foods have on your children.
Habits Begin at the Top
At the end of the day your children’s health is your responsibility. Teaching them positive steps in oral hygiene should be fundamental in their learning process. Your children idolize you and they mimic everything they see you do. This article is meant to highlight the easiest steps in beginning this process. So be the role model your child is looking for, if you don’t do all these routines, then start. Maintain strict flossing and brushing habits in the home and watch what you eat every day. You’ll find that making these tiny adjustments will drastically improve everyone’s overall health in the family.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dentist
It’s understandable that children are afraid of the dentist but don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment. We are happy to both you and your children on the path to oral health. Especially with your younger children you want them to be used to going in for routine checkups and this starts with getting into the office earlier than later. Establishing routine checkups twice a year is crucial for the development of your children’s teeth. Always refer to a professional, your dentist will be able to give you up-to-date information on all the best ways to manage your children’s teeth.
If you or your child are experiencing any aches or pains, don’t hesitate, schedule an appointment today! The longer you ignore little problems the greater chance of bigger issues will arise. Our offices are waiting for you and we can’t wait to help you get back to 100%.