Children need to look after their teeth if they are to avoid painful cavities and extractions. A parent's job is to monitor their child's oral hygiene and do everything in their power to help them stay healthy. Here are six tips to ensure your kids reach adulthood with perfect teeth.
1. Visit the Dentist Regularly
Regular trips to the dentist are vital if teeth issues are to be avoided. Your dentist is the best person to spot when there is a problem, so make sure you take your kids for a check-up at least once every six months. Children can start visiting the dentist from 12 months onwards. In fact, the earlier you take them, the better, as this will help them feel more relaxed in the dentist’s chair.
2. Have a Good Teeth Cleaning Routine
Children are not always very good at cleaning their teeth, but with your help, they will soon get the hang of it. Start by buying them a child-sized toothbrush and some child-friendly toothpaste containing fluoride. Gently brush your child’s teeth twice a day and once they are a bit older, introduce them to interdental brushes and flossing.
3. Avoid Sugary Drinks and Snacks
Sugary drinks and snacks are one of the main causes of tooth decay in children. Candy and soda contain lots of sugar, which feeds mouth bacteria and encourages plaque to form. This combined with poor oral healthcare, soon causes cavities and gum disease. You cannot ban candy and soda completely, but you can limit it, especially in younger children.
4. Ban the Pacifier
Pacifiers are useful for settling young babies, but by the time a child has reached the age of two, you need to break the habit. Prolonged use of a pacifier will change the way your child’s teeth sit in the mouth, often causing a serious overbite. If the damage is severe, your child will need to wear retainers when he is older in order to fix the damage.
5. Limit Juices
Fruit juices are perceived to be a healthy choice for babies and toddlers, but in fact they are a hidden source of sugar and consumption should be limited. A glass or two of pure orange or apple juice is good for a child, but try to encourage them to drink milk or water the rest of the time. If you do give them fruit juice, do not let them drink it from a bottle or sippy cup, as this increases the amount of time your child’s teeth are exposed to the sugary liquid.
6. Don’t Leave Baby with his Bottle
Never leave a baby alone with a bottle, especially if he is falling asleep. If he won’t give up his bottle at bedtime, fill it with water instead of milk or juice.
Fluoride is a great tooth decay preventative, so check whether there is fluoride in tap water where you live. For more information about fluoride and teeth, visit www.ilikemyteeth.org.