Practicing good dental care is paramount in maintaining healthy oral hygiene. Neglecting your oral health can have serious consequences on your overall health and wellbeing. Changes in your oral health can be an indication that you have a serious underlying medical condition, so not keep up with your teeth cleaning routine can prevent you from knowing that you need life-saving treatment. Health problems in your mouth also only get worse over time, and will likely compound to cause additional complications. Thankfully, the at-home dental care industry has made it extremely easy to keep your mouth clean without needing frequent visits to your dentist’s office. Teaching your child good brushing habits while they are young can help them develop lifelong habits that will keep them smiling and healthy. If you have been struggling to teach your child the importance of oral hygiene, check out these tips.
Helping your child learn how to properly clean their teeth, gums, and mouth is the first step in creating a new cleaning habit. This can be broken up into the following three categories:
Children need to learn how to properly brush their teeth, and what a proper brushing technique is. The American Dental Association recommends holding your toothbrush at about a 45-degree angle to your gum line and brushing back and forth with small circular strokes. Plaque buildup can cause bad breath, rotten teeth, and gum disease known as gingivitis, so it is monumental that your child learns a proper brushing technique.
It also recommended that children learn how to properly floss, as brushing alone generally doesn’t remove 100% of plaque and food debris. To practice proper flossing, have your child unravel about an arm’s length of floss, and wrap both ends around their middle finger. Then, while using their index finger, press the floss in between each tooth and slide the floss around both sides of each tooth. You can also teach them how to use a floss pick if they cannot figure out how to use traditional floss.
Using mouthwash is just as important as brushing and flossing your teeth, as it can help eliminate plaque buildup and prevent your child from developing gingivitis. Mouthwash also helps clean the areas of the mouth a toothbrush can’t reach, which can in turn help prevent bad breath. When choosing a mouthwash, make sure you purchase a brand that is appropriate for children. Many brands will have a bottle specifically designed to measure an appropriate serving for your child, and can even dye the plaque on their teeth so they can see how well they are brushing their teeth.
In addition to teaching your child how to properly care for their teeth and mouth, it is important that they understand the consequences of neglecting oral health. These can include:
More than 40% of children have dental cavities by the time they reach kindergarten, which highlights the need for implementing good brushing habits early. By letting your child know they will develop painful cavities if they don’t brush, you can encourage them to brush regularly.
Another serious consequence of not brushing is rotten teeth. Let your child know that they will not be able to enjoy their favorite food if their teeth fall out because they didn’t want to brush their teeth.
Learning about oral hygiene is a great way to also teach children about a healthy diet, and how their diet affects their teeth. Key foods to limit your consumption in are:
Foods High In Sugar
The biggest culprit in causing cavities is sugar. Foods that are high in sugar include candies, sodas, pastries, fruit juices, and some yogurts and cereals depending on the brand.
Sticky foods are prone to hanging out on and in between your teeth, which makes you more susceptible to developing cavities and a build-up of bacteria. Popular foods in this category include taffy, caramel, raisins, and jelly beans. Potato chips are also lumped into this category, as they become soft when you chew them and stick between your molars and cheek. It is recommended that you brush immediately after eating foods in this category to minimize the damage they can cause.
Acidic foods, like pickles, tomatoes, and lemons, can cause your teeth to weaken and lose vital minerals. To lessen the effect they have on your mouth, try to only eat these foods in small quantities with a meal, as this can lessen the amount of acid your teeth are exposed to.
Starchy foods are generally high in carbohydrates, such as crackers, cookies, chips, and cereal. Similar to acidic foods, starchy foods increase the amount of acid in your mouth and can weaken your teeth. To counter the effect of these foods, eat them with cheese or nuts to help neutralize the acid.
In addition to practicing good brushing habits and eating a healthy diet, it is recommended that you bring children to the dentist every six months for a check-up. Your dentist should be taking x-ray photos of your child’s mouth as well so that they can monitor how your child’s growing teeth are shifting. You can start taking your child to the dentist as early as when they turn one year old, or when their first tooth erupts. Whichever happens first.
Checking in with an orthodontist is another important step you can take in protecting your child’s mouth. All orthodontists are trained dentists, but only 5% of dentists are also orthodontists. This means that it’s never too early for children to receive an assessment from an orthodontist, but most children will have their first visit between the ages of eight and 14. Catching oral problems early can help speed up the time it takes to recover from dental procedures, as well as prevent future problems from ever occurring. The most common procedure performed at the orthodontist’s office is straightening teeth. If your child needs to have their teeth straightened out, it is important to know the options they have. The three most common methods for straightening teeth include:
Traditional braces are the most common orthodontic procedure, and involve applying steel brackets and wires to your child’s teeth, and slowly tightening them over a period of time to align their teeth. The average length of time a person will need to wear braces is about 2 years. Many parents feel comfortable choosing this option as the braces can only be removed by your orthodontist, and they are the cheapest braces option. Many children also enjoy the benefit of being able to choose colored bands that can be added to their braces.
Invisalign, also referred to as invisible braces, is a series of clear retainers that gradually tighten to discreetly move your teeth into place. Although this option of alignment is more expensive than traditional braces, it also significantly less noticeable which makes it a popular braces alternative for adults. Invisalign is only recommended for older children, however, as it is easy to lose a retainer, and costly to replace a retainer.
Incognito braces are the perfect mix between traditional braces and Invisalign. The process involves putting brackets and wires behind your teeth and slowly tightening them over time. They are more discreet than traditional braces, and you can’t lose a bracket like you can with an Invisalign retainer. This method is also a popular option for patients who are allergic to nickel, as these brackets are made from a gold alloy. Although you won’t be able to see these braces, you will be able to see a difference in the alignment of your teeth within the same amount of time as the previously mentioned methods.
Helping your children build a strong at-home dental care routine can help them practice good oral hygiene throughout their life. This skill is not only important from a basic hygiene standpoint but can also help prevent problems from developing later in life. The most obvious consequence of neglecting oral health is tooth decay and cavities, but plaque and oral bacteria can also cause more serious health complications like atherosclerosis and oral cancer. Regular office visits can also help you catch dental problems your child may be developing, like crowded teeth, and allow you to seek out an orthodontist for quicker and cheaper treatment than if you allowed the original problem to manifest longer. Although learning a proper brushing technique and visiting the dentist may not be your child’s favorite pastime, these life long skills will help them live a longer and healthier life.
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