We all know the havoc that excess sugar can have on a child’s growing body, but it can also lead to cavities and other oral problems. It’s important to instill healthy tooth hygiene at an early age. There’s nothing wrong with letting your kids indulge in a little bit of candy or sweets now and then, just make sure they know how to keep their teeth clean!
You may not think tooth health is especially important for babies since they aren’t eating many solid foods yet and their baby teeth will fall out anyway. However, bottle mouth is a common condition caused by the sugars from juice or milk sitting on a child’s teeth for too long. This can make the enamel chip away, potentially leading to cavities. In order to prevent bottle mouth, never put your baby to bed with a bottle, and don’t let him or her hold on to it after the milk or juice is gone. It’s important to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with water and a baby toothbrush. When the child reaches the age of 3, you can begin using fluoride toothpaste.
Once your child is a toddler, it’s time to begin the lifelong habit of visiting the dentist twice a year. It’s best to keep sticky snacks to a minimum, even if they’re healthy, as they can still linger in the mouth and cause cavities. Once your kid’s teeth begin touching, you can teach him or her how to floss and the importance of doing so regularly. If your child sucks on a pacifier or his or her thumb, you probably tend to let it slide, as it usually keeps a child from crying. However, this sucking habit can cause “buck teeth” or other orthodontic issues, so it’s best to try to wean your child off as early as possible – definitely before his or her adult teeth begin growing in.
“Teach your child the importance of brushing and flossing.”
By this time, you’ve probably been helping your child brush his or her teeth, so healthy habits are already being instilled. Keep it that way! Teach him or her the importance of brushing his or her teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day – especially after eating foods that tend to get stuck. When your child’s adult teeth have fully grown in, your family dentist will know whether or not he or she would benefit from braces or other orthodontic care. Orthodontic care isn’t solely for aesthetic reasons. Crooked or crowded teeth can cause food to stay lodged in tight spaces, leading to tooth decay or gum disease. Over, under or cross bites can cause headaches and chewing problems.
If your child has braces
Braces can work wonders on a child’s teeth and jaw. However, caring for teeth with braces is much more extensive than caring for teeth without them. Since food and bacteria can easily get stuck beneath the wires, brushing and flossing diligently is of utmost importance. Express the need to keep his or her mouth clean while in the throes of orthodontic care. Put together a little “travel kit” for him or her to take to school and keep in his or her locker. Include floss, a travel tooth brush and a small bottle of mouthwash. Since flossing with braces can be difficult, ask your child’s orthodontist if he or she has any special tools to make cleaning teeth with braces simpler.