As a conscientious parent, you want to see your child learn and practice consistently good oral health care from an early age.
What you can do as a parent to help make that happen will vary depending on your child’s age – in this blog, we will focus on tips appropriate for children in the age range of about 7 to 14 years.
It’s not always easy to get kids to take good care of their teeth and gums – but it IS possible. You CAN do it! Here are 10 key tips you can put into action starting today.
1. Be Sure Your Child Gets Plenty Of Fluoride
Children who drink water that is treated with fluoride have fewer cavities, on average, compared to those who live in communities that do not fluoridate their water supply. And those who brush daily with fluoride-containing toothpaste also benefit from the same positive trend.
About a third of all cavities in children are preventable simply by using fluoride in the water supply and toothpaste. This is an easy step to take as a parent. There is no reason to fail to ensure your kid is getting enough fluoride.
2. Get Any Cavities Treated Without Delay
About 10% to 15% of children ages 7 to 14 have at least one untreated cavity. When you leave cavities untreated in your child’s mouth, the chances are high they could eventually lose that tooth.
If it’s a baby tooth, it’s true another tooth will come up in its place. But in the meantime, an infection may spread that could impact more than just that one tooth. Plus, children with some baby teeth and some permanent teeth in their mouth could see bacteria from a baby-tooth cavity jumping to a permanent tooth and causing a cavity there as well.
3. Look For Signs Of Tooth Misalignment
Many children suffer from various types of tooth misalignments (malocclusions), including crooked teeth, tooth crowding, over spacing, overbite, underbite, jaw misalignment problems, and more.
These kinds of problems may result from genetic causes or from bad habits like thumb-sucking. But whatever the cause, you want to correct the problem as early as possible.
Take time to inspect your child’s mouth and see if there are any alignment issues. Also, see your local orthodontist. Your child may need to wear traditional braces, Invisalign aligner trays, or an expander for a time to correct these kinds of oral health problems.
4. Train Your Kids To Brush Properly
Even if your child brushes their teeth twice daily – once in the morning right after breakfast and once just before going to bed, as they should, you still need to make sure they are doing it correctly.
Be sure they are using a soft-bristled brush, brushing for two minutes straight, covering the front, back, and tops of teeth, gently brushing the gums, brushing the tongue, and making both back-and-forth and small-circle motions with the toothbrush.
5. Start Kids Early On Using Dental Floss
It can be difficult even for adults to floss. How can you expect children to do it?
Try using floss sticks. They are inexpensive and they are easy to use. They are fully disposable and are effective when used correctly. You can get floss sticks made just for kids too!
6. Don’t Forget The Antiseptic Mouth Wash
You don’t necessarily want small children to use a strong mouth rinse, but you can start them using it gradually. You can buy a kids’ mouth rinse that doesn’t contain any alcohol and isn’t as strong but is still effective.
Also, you can mix regular mouth wash with water at a 50-50 or even more diluted level. Teach your kid to gargle and spit. They will likely find it fun! Over the years, kids can gradually add less water to the mouth wash until they are using it safely full strength.
7. Ask Your Dentist About Sealants
Nowadays, dental sealants can be applied to children’s back teeth or “trouble teeth”. These sealants can reduce the odds of getting a cavity in that tooth by 80% or more.
Your dentist will know when it is appropriate to use them, but this is an option that may be a huge help at times.
8. Control & Monitor Your Child’s Diet
One of the best ways to ensure good oral health in children is simply to have them eat healthy, vitamin-rich foods consistently. Minimize high-sugar foods and drinks as much as possible. Make healthy foods and snacks convenient in the fridge and serve them at all meals.
Also, make sure your child isn’t putting something into his or her mouth that isn’t food at all. Chewing on foreign objects can cause tooth misalignments or may cause a tooth to chip.
9. Water, Water, Water!
It is amazing how much good drinking water can do for your child’s oral health. Have designated water bottles for your kid that they use every day. Try to make sure they drink eight cups of water a day or as much as you can manage to get them to drink.
Water flushes out food particles from the mouth and washes away harmful bacteria. It helps with bad breath, and it does wonders to help promote good tooth and gum health – while being amazingly inexpensive!
10. Find Ways To Make Oral Health Fun!
One of the keys to maintaining good oral health in children is to do what you can to make it fun.
Let them pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste at the store. Ask your dentist to give your child an oral care session. Get a colorful booklet or educational video on oral hygiene to watch with them. For younger children, let them get toothbrushes with their favorite cartoon characters on them or teach them a fun toothbrushing song.
Finally, have a family toothbrushing time to encourage your kids to keep up good oral health by your own example and obvious concern.
To learn more about encouraging good oral health in children, or to consult with an experienced orthodontist about related issues, contact LeCompte & Beauchamp Orthodontics in Central Florida today!