They say good health starts at home, and that’s certainly true when it comes to your child’s smile. At First Impression Dental here in Fresno, California, one of our goals is to partner with parents in their effort to establish healthy oral habits for kids that can help prevent the pain related to gum disease and tooth decay.
We’re also happy to support the American Dental Association’s promotion of February as National Children’s Dental Health Month. It’s the perfect opportunity for Dr. Brett Lent and our expert dental care team to highlight a simple routine your kids can follow to help ensure good oral health year-round.
1. Brush twice, floss once
Twice daily brushing helps prevent harmful, decay-causing bacteria from building up on tooth surfaces. Flossing once a day gets rid of the debris that collects in hard to reach spaces between the teeth and along the gumline.
Brush in the morning and then brush and floss before bedtime. Younger children need help with both tasks, but it only takes about three minutes twice a day and is a significant factor in preventing cavities and gum disease.
2. Take it down a notch
Teach your kids to brush thoroughly but not too aggressively since scrubbing away at your teeth can wear down enamel and damage sensitive gum tissue. This increases the potential of cavities and gum disease.
3. Soft is usually better
Soft bristle toothbrushes are typically right for most mouths. Be sure to buy brushes that are sized correctly for your child’s age and replace them about every three to four months or sooner if the bristles begin to fray or show other signs of wear.
4. Start good oral health habits early
You may be tempted to treat “baby” teeth causally since they’re temporary. Keep in mind, though, that most children don’t lose the last of their baby (primary) teeth until they’re 10-13.
Healthy primary teeth can help with normal speech development, prevent certain chewing and swallowing problems, and increase self-confidence. And young gums are just as susceptible to gum disease as adult gums. Dr. Lent sees patients aged two years and up.
5. Opt for water instead
Good hydration helps maintain adequate saliva production. Saliva helps wash away food debris and bacteria responsible for plaque. But teach your children to drink water rather than sugary fruit juices or carbonated drinks that contribute to tooth decay.
6. Include a little crunch with their meals and snacks
Healthy nutrition plays a vital role in preserving healthy gums and teeth from the inside. Adding fresh, crunchy fruits and vegetables to meals can also help from the outside.
Fresh carrots, celery, apples (not apple juice) and pears are natural “toothbrushes” that also promote saliva flow. Cashews, almonds, and other nuts also provide a healthy, satisfying crunch that stimulates saliva production.
7. Partner with a child-friendly dentist
You probably knew this tip was coming, but it’s imperative that children have routine dental exams every six months with an experienced pediatric dentist.
Dr. Lent can detect early warning signs of improper brushing techniques, tooth decay, gum disease, and other issues that affect oral pediatric health. That’s when treatment is often the easiest and most effective.
It’s also vital to establish a connection with a dentist who is experienced at treating the unique needs of children and teens and has the skills necessary to establish a trusting relationship with you and your child.
At First Impression Dental, we focus on prevention and provide comprehensive dental services that keep stress at a minimum and treatments as painless as possible for children, teens, and adults. Schedule a visit today. Call the office or request an appointment via our online scheduling tool.