Our teeth are very important and we are told from an early age how to take the best care of them so that they last a lifetime. When we become a parent, there is no instruction manual. We have a lot to remember to give our kids the best start, including how to look after their teeth. Here are a few simple steps to promote good oral hygiene in your children and when you should be visiting the dentist.
Reducing Sugar Intake
This is where most parents can struggle, as getting the right balance between treats and looking after your child’s teeth can be hard. The enamel on baby teeth is not as strong as adult teeth and, therefore, they are much more susceptible to cavities. With this in mind, our children should be having even less sugar, as we want their first set of teeth to last around seven years. It can be easier to give over to our child and give them what they want but consider their teeth before you do so.
Treats for when they have been good or on special occasions are acceptable. We cannot completely cut sugar out of our diet but try to make treats about more than just chocolate or sweets. This could be days out or some pocket money instead. If you do give your child sweets, ensure any teeth they do have are brushed with a child-friendly toothpaste shortly afterward to avoid a buildup of plaque. Giving too many acidic fruits should also be avoided as this can also damage the enamel. This includes fruits such as oranges. The best way to know exactly what you are giving your child is to give them the same meals you are eating, rather than baby food jars. These can have a surprising amount of sugar in them, always read the label.
You should be promoting your child brushing their own teeth from the moment they get the first tooth. The earlier you promote this, the more used to it your child will be, and they are more likely to brush their teeth. Purchase a baby toothbrush and toothpaste and when your child gets their first tooth, ensure you give it a brush the same as you would with your own. We are told to brush our teeth for two minutes, but with a baby’s first tooth, we do not need to spend as much time. After you have brushed it, it’s a good idea to let your baby have a hold of the toothbrush and chew on it themselves. Not only are they getting used to the toothpaste, they are also learning what the toothbrush is and what it feels like. When they begin to get older, if you are struggling to get them into a brushing routine you could consider using a teeth brushing chart that gives rewards for brushing every morning and night. Some children can associate brushing their teeth with going to bed and therefore refuse to do it. The earlier you instill good habits, the better to give your children’s teeth the best start in life.
Visiting the Dentist
You can visit the dentist from the moment your child has their first tooth and taking them to the dentist from an early age will also reduce the fear risk that many people have with the dentist. If you fear the dentist, try not to instill that fear into your children and promote it as a positive instead. The better care you take of your child’s teeth, the less invasive procedures they are likely to need in the future and, therefore, the less chance they will develop a fear of the dentist. A child will then be recommended to see the dentist every six months to check how their teeth are developing and to catch any problems before they develop. Dentists can also help promote good oral hygiene in your children and they are great at giving stickers if a child behaves whilst having their teeth checked. Explain to your child what a dentist is and what they do before they go, so they know what to expect. Visiting a dentist that you can trust means your child’s teeth will be well taken care of. Damira Dental Studios will ensure your child’s teeth have the best start in life.
You Are the Role Model
Brush your teeth with your child every morning. If they see you doing it, they are more likely to do it too. Remember to brush for two minutes. An electric toothbrush will help you to do this, as they are set on two-minute timers. This is a great way to look after your own teeth too and think about what you are eating. Do not deprive your child of sugary drinks or sweets and then have one yourself. This sends the wrong message that you were trying to avoid and children notice everything. Drink water as much as possible, with fizzy drinks or juice being a treat.
If every family member does this, your child will see it as the norm, and if you can get them drinking water from an early age, this can save their teeth from lots of sugar in juice. If you do give juice, it must be a lot more diluted than ours, as their teeth are more prone to damage from the sugar in juice. Always buy no added sugar if possible and promote milk as an alternative to water, as this is great for strong healthy teeth and bones.
Remember, we can still give our children treats; this is not about cutting out everything fun! Promoting good oral hygiene from a young age will ensure this goes through with them to adulthood. Drinking lots of water rather than juice ensures your child’s teeth are coming into contact with as little sugar as possible. Visit the dentist when your baby’s first tooth appears and if you are struggling to get your child to brush their teeth, ask the dentist to talk to them too.
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