By introducing good dental habits to your kids you can help them to maintain healthy teeth long into adulthood. Here are just several tips for protecting your children’s teeth.
Introduce a brushing routine
Good dental care starts with a regular tooth brushing routine. Your kids should ideally brush morning and night for two minutes at a time. Try to encourage them to brush one tooth at a time, brushing in small circles with the brush angled towards the root. The back-and-forwards wild scrubbing that many of us adopt isn’t very effective and you don’t want your kids picking this up early.
If you’re teaching your kids to brush their teeth for the first time, you may need to do it for them a few times first and then monitor them for a while after that. When you’re confident that they’re brushing correctly, you can let them do it on their own. Make sure that you’re leading by example and keeping a brushing routine of your own – you can even brush your teeth with them to encourage them and instruct them.
Use the right toothpaste
You should start using fluoride toothpaste on your kids’ mouths as soon as their first milk teeth start appearing. Toothpaste should ideally have a fluoride level of more than 1000ppm. From the age of seven, toothpaste should ideally have a fluoride level of more than 1350ppm. Certain children’s toothpastes may not have this level of fluoride and therefore may not be effective at fighting plaque and getting rid of bacteria. For this reason, you should always check the back of the toothpaste tube.
Make brushing teeth fun
Young kids will likely find brushing teeth boring. Some may also associate it with bedtime and you may find that they don’t want to do it for this reason. By making brushing teeth more fun you may motivate kids to stick to a routine. There are brushing game apps out there for kids that may involve brushing to music. Alternatively, you may be able to create your own games.
It’s worth also buying a kids’ toothbrush rather than a dull adult one. Take your kids shopping with you and get them to choose their own toothbrush. Kids with a love of gadgets may favour electric toothbrushes over normal ones.
Introduce healthy snacks
We all know how much kids love sweets. Putting a limit on sweets and introducing more healthy snacks could help to stop your kids developing too much of a sweet tooth. Those with a culinary passion may be able to make their own snacks and limit the amount of sugar in them such as low-sugar cookies. As for premade healthy snacks, consider the likes of plain popcorn and rice treats. You can also try using fruit – whilst this does contain sugar, it’s far better than sweets that contain refined sugar.
Certain foods may even be healthy for your kids’ teeth. Cheese is a great snack when eaten in moderation – its full of calcium that strengthens the enamel. Crunchy raw vegetables like carrot sticks are also great for the teeth and can help to clean the enamel as they’re being eaten. You can make these more exciting by accompanying them with a sauce to dip them in.
Be careful with sugary drinks
Sugary drinks are far worse than any sugary snack. This is because they coat the whole mouth in a layer sugar. When your child is an infant, you should ideally hold out against giving them juice for as long as possible – once they get a taste for it, they’ll always choose it over water and milk. Once you start giving your child juice, try to limit it as a treat. This may help to develop less of a reliance on sugary drinks. There are lots of low-sugar and zero-sugar alternatives out there to fizzy and non-fizzy soft drinks. You may want to try using these instead of the real thing, although water and milk are still healthier alternatives. It could also be beneficial to encourage kids to drink through a straw. By using a straw, you’re less likely to swill a drink around your mouth, causing fewer teeth to be coated in sugar.
Make regular dentist trips
You should get your kid signed up with your local dentist. Regular dentist trips can help to identify any dental problems early and can help to encourage your kids too keep up a good dental routine. Try to make a trip to the dentists a positive experience – many children will develop a fear early, particularly if they have to have injections or fillings.
Look into braces
If your child has wonky teeth or gaps, you could consider looking into braces. These can only be fitted when all of a kid’s adult teeth have come though. Many kids are apprehensive about having braces, especially if they’re the first in their class. General, once kids reach adolescence, it becomes the more done thing to do and you may find your child is resisting less against the idea. Braces have come a long way and there are now invisible braces available, which your child may be able to have fitted depending on the nature of your teeth. That said, standard train track braces can be patterned, which can be an extra appeal for some people.
Keep kids’ teeth protected during sports
If your kid does a contact sport such as martial arts or hockey, you may want to make sure that they’ve got a gumshield. Generally, clubs and schools will make these compulsive for insurance reasons, but this may not always be the case. There are different types of gum shields out there including molded mouthguards that can fit to the shape of your kid’s mouth and provide more comfort.