Oral health is tightly connected to overall health, and it’s critical that kids establish good oral health habits at an early age. The Wisconsin Dental Association offers the following tips to encourage healthy dental habits in kids:
Avoid sugar. Cavities can be prevented by cutting down on the sweets. By limiting the amount of sugar consumed, there are few opportunities for dental plaque to form. If plaque is not removed by either brushing, flossing or naturally by saliva, the mouth becomes more acidic, which can lead to decay. Some healthy alternatives to sugary snacks include water, cheese, crackers and apples.
Brush and floss together. Make brushing fun by doing it together! Show kids the right way to hold the toothbrush and how to move it gently along their teeth and gums. Maintaining regular brushing and flossing routines as a family allows caregivers to set good examples and monitor kids to be sure they’re brushing the right way, and for the proper amount of time.
Don’t overdo it on the toothpaste. A recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 40 percent of children ages 3-6 use excessive amounts of toothpaste when brushing their teeth. The recommended amount of toothpaste for children of these ages is a pea-sized amount, and even less for those under the age of 3. Anything more than that can lead to fluorosis, causing white lines or streaks in the teeth.
Make routine dental appointments. Children should start going to the dentist for routine cleanings and check-ups by the time of their first birthday or when the first tooth appears. Appointments are recommended every six months, unless the dentist suggests otherwise. By going the dentist’s office early and often, children can become comfortable with their dentist and build a foundation for healthy smiles at a young age.
Check for fluoride. Fluoride is one of the best and safest ways we can all prevent cavities. It plays an essential role in protecting our teeth by making them stronger and more resistant to acid. Make sure that children are receiving a sufficient amount of fluoride by checking the levels in your drinking water and toothpastes. If there is any doubt, ask the child’s dentist about prescribing additional supplements.