So much of parenting comes down to teaching. Whether that is actively showing your children new skills, traits and behaviors, or indirectly teaching kids habits through the way you and other adults in their lives behave.
The goal in the end, after all, is to raise children into independent and responsible human beings so that they may live a long, happy and successful life — because as hard as it is to accept now, your kids will eventually grow up!
Reinforcing healthy lifestyle habits is one of the most important examples we set for our children, not least of which is proper dental health. As we will continue to dive into in more detail (and repeat over and over!) on our blog page, maintaining healthy teeth and mouth is critical to your overall health and quality of life.
Dental Arts on the Square knows most strong habits are formed at an early age when the mind is constantly growing and absorbing new information. In that spirit, developing healthy kids dental care habits will have a lasting effect on your child’s life. Following are some strong dental behaviors we suggest you should help reinforce to your children every day!
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Most babies begin forming visible teeth around six months of age, a process that will see all 20 baby teeth push through the gums typically by the time your child is three.
Teething comes with a level of discomfort as the teeth burst out, causing some babies to become fussy, irritable or having a hard time sleeping. They often drool and can even have other complications like rashes or diarrhea. Here are some common signs your little one is teething:
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Drooling more than usual
Obviously, your infant cannot take care of their own teeth, so it is important to safely take care of their new teeth. Try rubbing their gums with a clean finger or use teethers that are made of a safe rubber, always making sure they are clean. Avoid using any numbing gels, tablets or oral drugs as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.
Most children find oral aids like their thumbs or pacifiers comforting, which starts as infants and can continue on even into their toddler stage. While there is no sure-proof way to ensure every finger is clean at all times, kids who use pacifiers should only use clean ones to avoid tooth decay (the destruction of your tooth enamel) and other harmful mouth diseases.
Even dipping the pacifier in sugar, honey, juice or other sweetened drinks can contribute to tooth decay and should be avoided. Your child’s baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay as soon as they appear around six months, and just because they will eventually lose them, does not mean it is an issue that can be taken lightly or unimportant to kids dental care.
Clean Those Teeth
Certainly, the most important habit for maintaining healthy teeth and mouth is regularly cleaning them. Making sure your child understands why cleaning their teeth is crucial to kids dental care is paramount. As infants, you can take the burden by brushing your baby’s teeth until they are able to do so on their own.
When your little one is able to handle the task of brushing their teeth on their own, be sure to get them an appropriate-sized toothbrush and teach them to brush twice a day (at least!), and when two teeth begin touching, showing them how to safely floss to clean that space between. Take note of a few key teeth-cleaning tips for your child:
- Make sure they used a small toothbrush made for children.
- Have your child begin flossing once two or more teeth grow and touch.
- Using just a pea-sized dollop of fluoride toothpaste is sufficient.
- Teach them to brush twice a day, although after every meal never hurts as well!
- Last but not least, supervise your child to ensure they are doing it right and teach them proper techniques if they need just a tad bit of improvement.
As a general rule of thumb, have your child brush their teeth for at least two minutes in the morning and at night before bed. Building it into their routine will reinforce strong kids dental care and habits for years to come!
Eat and Drink Healthy
Perhaps it seems silly from the outset, but it is easy to forget just how eating and drinking in a healthy way can drastically improve your dental health. What we put into our mouths every day directly impacts our mouth and teeth quality, so we want to reinforce how kids dental care correlates to what they eat and drink.
Sugary drinks and foods take much of the heat for poor dental health, and well they should! But so too are firm substances such as ice and hard candy or other beverages like coffee and citric juices. Such vices are best enjoyed in moderation and always with proper cleaning techniques used afterward. Some common foods and drinks that damage your teeth are the following:
- Hard candy
- Chewing ice
- Sticky and crunchy foods
- Sports drinks
Instead, try and stick to some healthier items around the house so that your youngster is less tempted to eat sugar-heavy foods and drinks. Water and dairy products are strong dental liquids to indulge in, while lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and nuts are all strong food options!
Tying all your kids dental care healthy habits together are frequent and regular visits to your dentist. While everything we have discussed so far are great ways to strengthen you and your child’s chances at great teeth, seeing a professional regularly binds it all together.
It is recommended that you take your kid to the dentist as soon as their first tooth appears, or by the first year at the very least. Do not wait until there is an emergency. Your dentist will examine your kid’s mouth and monitor their growth and development, but you are also helping your child become comfortable in a dental office setting. When taking your kid to the dentist, remember:
- Consider going in the morning when your child is rested and cooperative.
- Keep any anxiety or concerns to yourself (or your dentist) as children pick up on your emotions, so reinforce the positive!
- Never use a trip to the dentist as a punishment or a threat.
- Resist tempting your child into going to the dentist and talk with them about what to expect and why this is important — an even enjoyable!
While at the dentist, your child will be inspected for cavities and other issues, you can ask your dentist about any concerns or general care needs and your dentist will clean their teeth and offer any necessary tips moving forward. Plus, a really great dentist a
ppreciates your kids dental care and wants to form a connection with them in their quest to assist your kid growing into a healthy adult!
Schedule Your Appointment Today!
At Dental Arts on the Square in Newtown Square, PA, we understand what you should look for in your kid’s dental care and would love the opportunity to be your family dentist and help create an amazing, lifelong smile for your child. Schedule an appointment today!