Starting your kids on the path of good dental care is crucial and something you should start at a very early age to properly instill. Doing this will help keep your children’s teeth cavity-free and keep their smile happy & healthy! What are the best ways to instill good dental care? Read on…
First up, let’s talk bottles & sippy cups. When it comes to baby bottles, be sure you never put your child down for a nap with a bottle of juice, formula, milk – if a bottle in bed is a must, only water! Why? Because the other stuff has sugar in it which will cling to teeth & making them more prone to cavities. No bottle is worth that. And when it comes to sippy cups, be sure your kiddo isn’t drinking from it all day long, because that can lead to decay on the back of the front teeth. Don’t believe the myth that cavities in baby teeth don’t matter because kids lose them early either. It’s true that baby teeth start falling out as early as 5 or 6 but back molars can stay in till anywhere from 10 to 12. Cavities in baby teeth are just as important to take care of (and avoid when possible) as cavities in adult teeth!
A great way to prevent cavities in your kids’ teeth is via diet. For example, only give your child no more than 4 ounces a day of 100% fruit juice. A lot of parents tend to think juice is healthy but it’s not; it’s merely chockful of sugar! Instead, make water your ally. Not only do you avoid the sugar issue but when you drink water with, or right after, meals and snacks you’re further helping defeat the sugar issue by washing away lingering sugar & food on teeth (though nothing replaces brushing!). Also, watch what your child eats. Fat, protein, and fiber do not cause cavities. Simple or processed carbohydrates do. Starches cling to the teeth and cause a large percentage of cavities. That doesn’t mean you should never, ever touch a carb again. It just means you should indulge your children (and yourself!) in higher qualities of carbohydrates (ie fresh foods vs. processed foods).
The most important thing you can do for your children to protect their teeth though is to teach them good dental care habits. Start when your little one is well & truly little – even before babies have teeth, you should be carefully brushing their gums with water on a baby toothbrush or a soft washcloth. When those first baby teeth appear, you should be brushing them twice a day, just like you do for yours. Kids can start brushing their teeth with help from a grownup around 2 or 3. Don’t forget flossing either! As soon as two of your child’s teeth are touching, you can start flossing their teeth. (When it comes to mouthwash, be sure to ask your dentist when it’s safe for your child to use that. Ages vary as that requires children to know how to swish and rinse.)
And when your children invariably try to get out of brushing & flossing, stand firm. Don’t start too, too close to bedtime to avoid a terrifically tired (and cranky!) kiddo. Let your kids pick out their own toothpaste and toothbrushes from the kids’ section to help motivate them. Plus motivate them yourself with rewards like a gold star sticker on a special brushing chart or by having everyone brush their teeth together (kids are more likely to participate in group activities). Most important of all? BE PATIENT.
Do the above, plus bring your child in for regular check-ups and you’ll be keeping your child’s teeth healthy & cavity-free!