Brushing our little one’s teeth twice a day is the number one way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but what else can we do to keep our children’s chompers in optimum health? Here’s 5 tips to help to help keep nasty tooth decay at bay.
1. Put the Brush in Their Hands
As with anything worth doing in life, the sooner you can practice and instill good habits, the easier and more beneficial it becomes long term. Once your child hits the two-year mark, encourage them to have a go at brushing their own teeth and get them to kick-start the exercise each morning and evening from here on. Of course, you should stay with them during this and give their teeth an extra brush after to make sure they’ve covered all their teeth. Continue to supervise until the good habits are formed and you’re satisfied they can manage the task on their own.
Parents often ask, ‘at what age should I start flossing my child’s teeth?’ A simple rule; as soon as your little one’s teeth begin to come in contact with each other – usually around the 2-3-year mark. At this stage, it becomes a lot easier for pesky food particles to get caught between the teeth and foster the growth of bacteria and the development of plaque. If you’re not sure whether it’s at the stage where it’s needed, ask your dentist for advice.
3. Dental Visits
Your child should visit the dentist any time after their first tooth appears (and ideally before their first birthday). From here, the sooner you can make the dentist part of their routine, the more fuss-free it should become. We know the dentist trip can be a daunting one, even for us big kids, and keep in mind the first encounter your child has with the dentist can leave a lasting impression. So, to make it as enjoyable and comfortable as possible, start by picking out a friendly dentist who’s good with kids and secondly, give your kid a heads-up on what to expect. Let them know they’re going to visit the tooth fairy’s assistant who just wants to have a look at their teeth and give them a special clean.
4. Healthy Foods
Your child’s diet is just as important as brushing their teeth. Dentists often say our mouth is a reflection of what we eat, and we all know that eating high sugar foods such as cakes, lollies, dried fruit and fruit juice increases the chance of decay. This is because sugar is converted by the bacteria in our mouths into acid, which attacks tooth enamel and ultimately can result in cavities. Create fun healthy snacks such as fresh fruit kebabs or cookie-cutter shaped sandwiches with your kids and use this as an opportunity help them understand which foods your teeth likes and which ones aren’t so friendly.
5. Make it Fun!
One of the best ways to keep your child’s teeth in great health and reduce the risk of tooth decay is to get them enthusiastic about daily dental hygiene. Let’s be honest, tooth brushing probably doesn’t sit at the top of your child’s list of favourite activities, but there’s plenty of ways to make it more fun. Get them to help choose the toothpaste and toothbrush they want to use. Make the process fun by “looking for treasure behind the teeth” or by having some music or an animated kid’s teeth cleaning video on in the background.