3 Tips for Great Children’s Dental Health
We all know we're supposed to brush our teeth twice a day. We know that having healthy teeth is important throughout our lives. Actually doing all of the things necessary to prevent cavities and tooth decay can be tricky, though, especially for those without insurance or with limited time or money. And helping our kids learn how to do all of those things can be another story altogether. Fortunately, having good dental health is not as hard as you might think.
First, make the the daily tooth-brushing routine both a habit and a happy thing. If you've got a laptop nearby, play this fun two-minute video from 2min2x.org, or any of the other Adventure Time or Lazy Town videos they provide, and tell your kids they can't stop brushing until the song or video is over. Chances are, they'll be so busy "rapping" or watching and brushing, the two minutes will fly by! Always offer rewards for consistent tooth brushing. Consider using this free printable checklist.
Second, provide a fluoride toothpaste for your kids to brush with, especially if they are under seven years old and fluoride is not provided in your community water supply. The CDC reports that fluoride is effective for stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process. It keeps tooth enamel strong and solid. When a child eats sugar or other refined carbohydrates, bacteria from these foods produce acid that removes minerals from the surface of the tooth. Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth surfaces and prevents cavities from continuing to form.
If you are unsure if fluoride is provided in your community water supply, check this useful map. It also helps to drink fluoridated water throughout your day, rather than bottled water, which has no fluoride.
Third, get your kids in to see their dentist early. This means as early as age one or when their first tooth appears. Some family dentists may not see a child that early, so check with yours first. Why is this important? First of all, babies can still get cavities, even if they don’t have any visible teeth. They are born with 20 primary teeth. Did you know, that a child’s teeth are more susceptible to decay when they first appear, so it is important to brush their teeth or wipe their gums after meals.
Twitter user @Anitautami says, with regards to childrens' dentist visits, that it's very important to "lead by example and make them fun. Make it a positive experience." If your dentist's office doesn't have things like TV's or train sets in their offices, then consider asking the dentist for permission to read a book to your child while they're in the chair, and provide a non-sugar treat after the visit.
Though it can be a challenge to teach your children good dental practices, such efforts are very important, as their healthy baby teeth allow them to chew and eat properly, help them speak clearly, shape their faces, and guide their adult teeth into place. Good luck!
What are you doing to make sure you are taking good care of your teeth?
Image courtesy of Flickr biscarotteA frequent contributor to Mom It Forward, Jamie Moesser holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration. Before becoming a full-time mom she spent 10 years writing grants and fundraising for non-profit organizations. She now enjoys blogging at HobbyMamas.com, volunteering at her sons’ school, reading, writing fiction, and scrapbooking. And as if that wasn’t enough, her other hobbies include waterskiing, r/c car racing, and dirt biking.