5 Times When You Can Teach Your Kids Healthy Teeth Habits

From the moment your first child's first tooth emerges, you worry about keeping your child's teeth healthy. You love your kids' happy smiles, so you want them to look bright and strong, even when they showcase only a few baby teeth. Although baby teeth are only temporary, they need gentle and consistent care just like permanent teeth.

Healthy baby teeth aid digestion, enhance speech development, and prepare gums for adult teeth, while ensuring that they do not become infected due to cavities.

Luckily, you don't have to set aside any additional time to help your kids develop healthy teeth habits. The tips below will show you how you can teach your kids to care for their teeth during your regular routine.

1. At Bedtime and Breakfast Time

You probably have a nighttime routine that includes pajamas, bedtime stories, and a goodnight kiss. You also have a morning routine that involves waking up, eating breakfast, and getting ready for the day. Incorporate brushing your child's teeth into these daily occurrences as soon as the first baby tooth appears. Teach your child not to skip this important habit, even on holidays or other special occasions.

Until your child turns 2 or 3, you should supervise and check his brushing to ensure that he is doing it correctly and thoroughly and is not swallowing toothpaste. Flossing is best done by you until the child has the dexterity to do it properly – probably age 5 or 6.

Additionally, we recommend that the child get a toothbrush and do his best starting age 2 or so and take total responsibility as soon as he is able. It is also important to use children’s toothpaste to avoid damaging teeth in case the child swallows some; a pea sized amount is what is recommended.

If you find that your child needs extra motivation to brush twice a day, buy them an electric toothbrush. Kids enjoy using powered toothbrushes because they think of them as toys, not chores.

2. At the Grocery Store

When your toothbrush bristles wear down and your floss or toothpaste runs out, you have to replace these tooth care supplies. Instead of running that errand by yourself, take your children with you. They'll appreciate that you included them and create fun memories associated with dental hygiene.

When children turn 3 or 4, let them choose their own toothbrush. Children who like their toothbrush have more motivation to brush their teeth consistently. Your child might prefer a toothbrush with a favourite movie character or a patterned or brightly coloured handle. Narrow down the options to two or three choices if your child has a hard time picking just one.

3. At Mealtimes and Snack Times

What children eat impacts their dental health as much as their brushing and flossing habits do. Sugary and acidic foods and drinks linger on the teeth and promote decay. You can help your child avoid cavities by teaching these eating habits:

  • Limit sugary, sticky, and chewy foods. When you do eat them, serve these foods with regular meals. When we eat higher volumes of food, our mouths produce more saliva, which cleans our teeth.
  • Have one or two set snack times. The more we snack, the more we expose our teeth to possible decay. Teach kids not to snack too much so they can avoid tooth problems. Choose healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and cheese as snacks.
  • Offer your child water instead of juice or soda. Drinks get into the nooks and crannies around our teeth better than any food. That makes sugary drinks a big culprit behind early childhood cavities. Help your children appreciate water instead, since it's a natural tooth cleanser. Milk provides calcium for strong teeth, but avoid adding flavoured sweeteners.

4. When You Visit the Dentist

Your children look up to you, so set an example they can follow by visiting the dentist regularly. Children will notice you visiting the dentist and recognize that dental appointments are normal and important.

At your regular checkups, ask your dentist or hygienist if your child can look around the exam room. Seeing you in the exam chair will help your child feel comfortable at the dental office. You can also show your kids the fun elements of a dental office, like the adjustable chair or free toothpaste samples. These fun things will help your child look forward to his or her first official dental appointment.

5. At Your Child's First Dental Appointment

We recommend that children have their first dental assessment around age 3 or earlier if you notice a concern such as a cavity or a toothache. Infant dental exams usually do not involve cleanings and X-rays. They simply allow the dentist to examine baby teeth for potential problems. They also help the infant become familiar with the dental office.

Teaching your kids to prioritize oral hygiene sets them up to enjoy healthy teeth throughout their lives. Use these tips to help your kids establish healthy teeth habits.

For more information on oral hygiene tips call us at 403-342-1118, or visit our family dentist in Red Deer at Parkland Mall Dental Centre.