As parents, the one thing we would give to our children if we could is good health. If only that were possible! Actually, when it comes to good oral health, there are several ways you can help your children enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles.
- Get your child accustomed to oral care from the very beginning. Once your child’s first tooth erupts, gently clean the tooth and gums with a soft, damp cloth. Not only will this clean your child’s mouth; it will also help your little one to feel more comfortable with oral hygiene in general. As more baby teeth begin to erupt, continue this same routine, switching from a damp cloth to a very soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Teach them to take care of their teeth and gums every single day. With the help of your dentist, show them the proper way to brush and floss their teeth. Make it part of their daily routine, morning and night. When these everyday routines become a habit for children, they’re much more likely to continue them throughout their lives.
- Take your child in for his or her first dental visit by the age of one. That may sound early, but getting your little ones accustomed to visiting the dentist at a very early age will make it easier to take them in as they grow older. It also allows your dentist to identify any dental or gum issues that may be present at an early age, so they can be resolved quickly. After that first visit, continue with follow-up visits every six months, or as often as recommended by your dentist.
- Make sure your child eats a diet that is healthy for teeth and gums. And remember that it’s not just candy and baked goods that contribute to tooth decay – otherwise healthy foods like dried fruits and juice can also be culprits. Encourage your child to eat as much fresh and cooked produce as possible, along with lean protein. Water is the best beverage, since it works to neutralize acidity in your child’s mouth.
- Maintain your own oral health as well. Bacteria present in your mouth can easily be transferred to your child if you share saliva on an eating utensil or by snuggling with your little one, for example. If you maintain your own daily oral hygiene regimen, not only are you acting as a good role model for your child; you’ll also be reducing the amount of bacteria you unknowingly pass on to your little one.
We may not be able to protect our kids from certain childhood diseases or the occasional fall on the playground, but thankfully we can have a positive influence on their oral health. With some encouragement from an early age, your child will learn how to enjoy healthy teeth and gums for many, many years!