With so many sweet treats and drinks easily accessible to children, it’s important to establish good oral hygiene habits as soon as possible. The earlier, the better, as deeply ingrained and repeated patterns are much more palatable to young children, and have a better chance of staying in place as they age. Here are a few tips and routines to keep your child’s teeth happy and healthy:
- Dental visits should start at the ripe old age of one, around the time your child begins teething. Exposure to the dentist at such a young age can acclimate your child to the experience, making it easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved — the dentist is no longer a scary man in a white coat and instead is interpreted as a doctor who’s going to make your mouth feel squeaky clean! Going to see the dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning kills two birds with one stone and lets you keep tabs on your child’s oral health.
- Building a consistent routine for your child to brush their teeth after breakfast and before bed is a logical, but sometimes overlooked, step. Kids are sneaky — brush your teeth together to ensure they’re being thorough and following through on the routine. This can also be a fun way to introduce flossing, a vital but frequently ignored part of maintaining a healthy smile, and bond with your kid before they go to sleep. If your child attaches a positive feeling (like happiness at the thought for spending quality time with you) to a task they don’t want to do, they will come to enjoy and even look forward to it. A little prevention can go a long way in keeping your child free from painful cavities and expensive dental work.
- Limiting the amount of sweets your child has access to can be hard, especially if you’re a fan of them yourself, but if you can establish the idea that candy and sugary cereals or drinks are for special occasions from a very young age, your child won’t really be aware of what they’re missing. Maybe they’re allowed to have sugary cereals when grandma comes to watch them for the night, or maybe they’ll be able to drink soft drinks during holidays — you don’t need to cut them out completely as long as they are managed in moderation. Substitute naturally sweetened foods, such as fruit, as a bonus to satisfy that sweet tooth and encourage healthy eating habits.
Caring for your child’s teeth doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and it certainly doesn’t have to include emergency pediatric dental services because your child’s mouth is full of cavities. With consistency and diligence, you can help keep your child’s smile happy and healthy.