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Every year, February is set aside for us to pay special attention to our little ones’ dental health. How are you and your kids celebrating? While brushing and flossing are far from the most exciting thing on a kid’s mind, there are ways to help your children embrace their own dental care. And by taking steps to build beautiful, healthy smiles today, they help ensure superb oral health as they grow older.
Hoping to schedule your family’s next dental exams? It’s never too early to get on the schedule – and the further in advance you set them up, the easier it will be to get the day and time you’d like! Get in touch today.
Below, we have some of the key factors to keep in mind as you help your entire family prevent cavities and build strong teeth.
Remember the Importance of Baby Teeth
Baby teeth may seem disposable, but they actually matter more than you’d expect. These teeth help children learn to speak and chew properly, and help guide permanent teeth as they develop. And having baby teeth with cavities is a big problem for kids. Trying to live life with painful tooth decay impacts a child’s eating, sleeping, and learning. The germs that cause cavities in baby teeth can also lead to cavities in permanent teeth.
If your child has frequent cavities, they face some of the following issues:
- School absences – When there’s a dental emergency caused by a cavity, your child may need to miss a full or half day of school to get it dealt with. This robs them of staying on a regular class schedule and socializing with their friends. Studies have actually found that cavities are the #1 cause of school absences, and we’re hoping to change that.
- Low self esteem – A significant part of a child’s confidence depends on their appearance. The smile is so important, and if a child feels that they look different from other kids, they’re less likely to speak up so that they can avoid showing their teeth. Other kids may also make them a target if their teeth are noticeable decayed.
- Poor permanent tooth development – Baby teeth guide the development of permanent teeth. Your child’s adult teeth need a good blueprint to form properly.
- Dental anxiety – Adults with dental anxiety typically formed their fears during childhood. Repeat fillings lead to an association between the office and the dental drill. Avoiding that anxiety while young can help individuals gain a lifetime of comfort with the dentist.
Make Oral Health Kid-Friendly
Obviously, oral hygiene isn’t how kids want to spend their time. But you can tweak the dental care process to make it much more appealing.
- Teach your kids about tooth-healthy foods – Put some intent behind their brushing and flossing. Describe how sugar leads to decay, and how healthier options protect teeth. Go over snacks that will be good for their teeth and bodies, and still taste great. Foods that are sweet, sticky, or acidic should be the main bad guys – they don’t have to cut out every sugary treat, but limiting them will help. Here’s a list of healthy snacks that kids will still enjoy.
- Get them into the water bottle habit – Find a refillable water bottle that has a character or design that your child loves. They’ll actually enjoy taking this to school, and it will encourage them to drink water instead of soda or juice. You can also add fruit to the water for some gentle flavoring without a ton of added sugar.
- Consider sealants – These thin protective coatings make oral hygiene simpler and cavity prevention more successful. Sealants help prevent cavities from taking hold in cracks and fissures on molars, as well as other teeth. They are also covered by many insurance plans. Ask Dr. Barton if your insurance covers this preventive option.
- Help your kids understand the benefits of healthy teeth – Assist your children in making the mental leap from a strong smile to things that are important to them. Remind them that healthy teeth will help them feel comfortable and confident in the classroom and on the playground. Brushing and flossing will prevent bad breath and help keep their teeth white. Plus, they will prevent the need for uncomfortable cavities and fillings.
- Make brushing more fun – Find a song that lasts about two minutes and that your kids enjoy. Two minutes is long enough for proper cleaning of the teeth and tongue. But most of us (especially kids) don’t spend enough time with our toothbrushes. A song will help keep kids on track, and make the process more entertaining. Getting your kids new toothbrushes is also important for health (brushes should be changed every 3 months or after sickness) and keeps your kids engaged (especially if their brushes feature their favorite characters).
Get the Whole Family into Home Dental Care (It’s Easier Than it Sounds!)
Support your kids by adopting some of the same tooth-healthy practices. After all, you can benefit from cavity prevention as well!
- Make sure to show your kids that you care about your teeth. You are your child’s primary role model, and they see everything you do. Eat right, avoid sugary snacks, and brush and floss regularly.
- Try brushing and flossing as a family. If you clean your teeth alongside your kids, you can keep an eye on them and make sure they’re brushing and flossing properly (or at all). And you get a little extra bonding time too! As a final bonus, this shows your kids that you’re not exempt from oral hygiene – it’s something every family member is in on. You can even keep a brushing and flossing chart in the bathroom to keep track!
- Reconsider your weekly groceries – Avoid processed snacks and pick up plenty of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, nuts, dairy, whole grains, and lean protein. Try to limit Coke and emphasize water (can be sugar-free and flavored) instead.
- Schedule family dental exams – With a little planning, you and your kids can visit the dentist on the same day. This will help reduce dental anxiety and normalize the exam process for your kids.