Getting Your Kids Started on the Path to Great Oral Health
Teeth start forming during the second trimester of pregnancy. Pregnant women, therefore, need to make sure they get enough calcium in their diet for healthy teeth in the baby. Calcium doesn’t just come from dairy.
Some research has gone so far as to say that dairy products leech calcium from our bones. There are many other foods that are rich in calcium, such as broccoli, okra, cabbage, soya beans, tofu, beans, lentils, and almonds.
Model Healthy Behaviours
Kids learn by copying our habits, even bad ones. So, if you want them to look after their teeth, you should practice good oral care on yourself in front of them. Seeing you brushing and flossing your teeth regularly will make them want to imitate you.
They’ll soon want to look after their own teeth. Teach them how to brush properly instead of just waving the brush around their mouth. Have them concentrate on brushing all sides of each tooth to ensure a thoroughly clean mouth.
And don’t forget to teach them to brush their tongues. The tongue can often be coated in harmful bacteria, so it’s essential to keep it as clean as your teeth.
How to Care for Your Newborn's Mouth
When a baby is born, keep her gums clean by wiping a clean washcloth over the gums. This clears away bacteria. As soon as your baby’s first tooth has appeared, it should be brushed.
Swallowing toothpaste is not a good idea, so using a minimal amount and encouraging spitting are essential. When your baby has teeth that are touching, it’s time to start flossing. The idea is to remove harmful bacteria from just below the gum line and between the teeth.
Children eight and under should be supervised to make sure they don’t swallow toothpaste and that they are brushing their teeth correctly. Teeth should be brushed twice a day, and flossed once daily.
Avoid Unhealthy Eating and Drinking Habits
Putting your baby to sleep with a bottle might help them go to sleep, but can be disastrous to the teeth. What happens is that the sugars in the milk or juice stay on the teeth for hours. This can lead to what is known as “bottle mouth,” where the enamel gets eaten away.
The result is pitting, discoloration, and even decay. In severe cases, the front baby teeth need to be pulled. Sitting with a bottle in the mouth during the day can have the same effect. To prevent this, encourage your baby to use a sippy cup instead of a bottle.
Establish set drinking times for the day, and avoid offering juices, which are extremely high in sugar. Obviously, sodas should be avoided as much as possible because of their high sugar content. By the age of 12 months, your baby should be able to hold a sippy cup on their own.
When You Should Bring Your Baby to the Dentist
According to the Dental Association, children should see a dentist by the time they turn a year old. At their first visit, your dentist will probably check your baby’s teeth while she’s sitting on your lap.
The dentist will also talk about how to brush and floss properly. The earlier you get your child into the habit of visiting the dentist every six months, the better. Not only will your dental practitioner be able to spot potential problems early on, but your child will realize there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Some dentists specialize in treating children. They are trained in treating children’s dental problems and can refer you to a specialist if necessary. One painless procedure that your dentist might perform early on is the application of topical fluoride. This helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
How to Continue Good Oral Health as Your Child Gets Older
Once you have established a good oral health routine, keep encouraging your child. Preteens can become slack in their habits, so make sure you get them to stick to the program.
As they get older, kids become more appearance-conscious. You can remind them that good oral hygiene will help them look and feel better. An electric toothbrush can be more fun but is essential for kids who wear braces.
Don’t forget flossing. Without flossing, virtually half the tooth remains uncleaned. Establishing a daily flossing routine is vital for a healthy mouth, and particularly when wearing braces.
Other Tips to Keep Your Children's Teeth Healthy
Make sure your child gets enough fluoride. This mineral hardens the tooth enamel, making it more difficult for cavities to form. If your water supply is not fluoridated, speak to your dentist about fluoride tablets for your child.
The fluoride in toothpaste isn’t enough to protect your child’s teeth. Too much fluoride, however, can cause tooth discoloration. Once your child’s permanent teeth erupt, your dentist can apply a sealant to the back teeth to protect them from decay.
The surfaces of the back teeth are particularly prone to develop holes. That’s why sealing them off goes a long way to preventing cavities. Regular visits to the dentist are also important for keeping your children’s teeth healthy.