From birth to adolescence, instilling good oral hygiene practices in your children is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Poor dental hygiene, such as not brushing or flossing regularly, has a direct link to things like gum disease, tooth loss, and bad breath. Even worse, poor oral hygiene has also been linked to such issues as dementia, pneumonia, diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease.
It is perfectly clear to see why instilling good oral hygiene in your children as early as possible is crucial to helping them become happy, healthy, successful individuals as they grow older. But most parents don’t realize what’s so crucial about each stage of development.
Baby Teeth are Just as Important
“They’re going to fall out anyway.” This is what many parents think to themselves when referring to possible decay in their children’s baby teeth. However, the simple fact is that tooth decay and disease in baby teeth can lead to gum disease and tooth decay in the surrounding permanent teeth, causing future dental problems. As new permanent teeth come in, they need healthy gums, and healthy “neighbours,” in order to survive and thrive in the high-bacteria ecosystem of a child’s mouth.
Using a clean, wet cloth to wipe your baby’s gums after each feeding can help to reduce the chance of future oral disease and tooth decay by killing off bad bacteria and keeping plaque to an absolute minimum. You should also plan on scheduling your child’s first regular dentist visit at as early as one year old to ensure that you are setting them up for the best possible chances at healthy oral hygiene habits.
Healthy Teeth for Healthy Tots
When babies become toddlers, they start learning the patterns and behaviours that will stay with them for their entire lives. Instilling good oral hygiene habits during this stage of development is absolutely essential to raising healthy children with healthy behaviours. Remember that kids of this age have a tendency to put foreign objects of all shapes sizes and cleanliness into their mouths. Because of this fun little adventure of finding out how things taste, it’s especially important to pay attention to their oral hygiene, and of course, keep things as clean as possible around the house.
It is especially important to model good oral hygiene during this time period, as toddlers tend to pay the most attention to how their parents act and what they do during this stage. On top of helping you stay healthy and in good shape, it will help your children tremendously too. Be sure to follow your daily regimen of flossing and brushing, and don’t forget to schedule yourself for regular dental appointments as well.
Make it Fun
For young children, it is highly recommended that you make a fun routine out of oral hygiene. This will ensure that your children look forward to the routine, rather than having them dread it every day. It also helps to ensure that they will actually complete the task as well as do it when you are not around them.
You can make oral hygiene fun through various strategies. Brushing and flossing together with your kids can keep them interested because they mimic what you do. Having a special toothbrush with a fun cartoon character or exciting animal can make brushing teeth a sort of play time for kids. There are fun little timers out there that time for two minutes, giving kids a goal to meet in a fun and interesting way. Many manufacturers make tasty flavours of toothpaste for kids, such as grape or strawberry flavoured toothpaste. This can help to get kids to want to brush more.
Avoiding sugar in excess is one of the most important ways you as a parent can protect your kids from nasty plaque and gum disease. Of course, the occasional cookie is to be expected. Let your kids be kids. But daily or more, sugary snacks and drinks can cause buildup of plaque on the enamel of the teeth, eventually leading to cavities and other complications. It is best to limit the sugar intake as much as possible, providing tasty healthier options instead. This practice has benefits in more than just oral hygiene, but other types of physical health as well.
The Importance of Dental Hygiene in Adolescence
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the prevalence of tooth decay among children aged 12–17 years declined from 90.4% in 1971–1974 to 67% in 1988–1991. This shows that over time, along with improvements in science and dentistry, adolescents have begun to improve their oral hygiene habits. These habits can include actions such as regular flossing and brushing, regularly scheduled dental visits for cleanings, and things like fillings and other procedures for situations where hygiene isn’t enough to reverse the issue.
These habits can be especially crucial in the adolescent stage, as children tend to form some not-so-healthy habits during this time period. For example, studies have shown that nearly 90% of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18. This issue and others, such as poor diet, are highly prevalent in today’s youth. Because of this, the issue of dental hygiene is urgently important to your children’s overall health during their adolescence.
Keeping up with your kids can be tough, but good oral hygiene is crucial to raising happy, healthy and successful children. Make sure you start as early as you possibly can by instilling good, repetitive and, most importantly, consistent habits in your kids. They need to know the importance of good oral hygiene, and the implications it can have on their health and happiness.
For more information about dental care for children, contact Oakville Place Dental to schedule an appointment today.