Everyone wants to have the most beautiful, perfect smile they possibly can. A great smile boosts your confidence, brightens up others' day, and can even improve your health. As you're working to achieve and maintain a beautiful smile for yourself, it's also important to help your children work on their smile, as well. If good habits aren't established from a very early age, children could habituate poor oral hygiene habits which prove detrimental to the health and beauty of their smile as they get older. To avoid all the issues an unhealthy mouth can cause, here are a few tips to help your kids achieve great oral health.
1. Brush twice a day. No, really.
We know that, sometimes, getting your kids to brush their teeth at all is a bit like herding cats. We get it, because as a Houston Pediatric dentist, many of us are parents, ourselves. At the same time, the momentary difficulties you experience now will be far outweighed by the great oral health you can help your children establish by brushing twice a day. Kids aren't known for always eating the healthiest food, and so it's important to remove the bacteria which grow in your kid's mouth by brushing those teeth, even when it's not fun.
Oral health companies feel your pain, and have gone to great lengths to make brushing your kid's teeth as fun for them as possible. Toothbrushes with their favorite cartoon characters and flashing lights, (actually) great-tasting toothpaste in fun colors, and wacky and fun brushing timers all help make the process a little easier. Don't you wish we had all that when we were kids?
2. Floss. There, we said it.
In addition to brushing twice a day, it's important that your kids floss at least once a day. If your mind just melted at the thought of how that is possible, trust us, we hear you. Not only can flossing be tricky to do, but if it hasn't been done enough previously, it can also be painful. Encourage your kids by setting a great example and flossing with them, and if it seems absolutely impossible, it might be time for a reward chart. However you do it, flossing is crucial to great oral health as it removes the hard-to-reach bacteria between teeth that the toothbrush misses.
3. Put those cans (or bottles) in the can.
As a Houston pediatric dentist, we see plenty of cases of kids having one or more cavities on any given visit. The most common cause of these cavities, we've found, is the regular consumption of sugary drinks. Sodas, to be sure, but juice packs and Kool-Aid are big culprits, as well. Sugar acts like a great big buffet for all those pesky bacteria, who combine with the sugar to create enamel-destroying acid. This leads to tooth decay and a whole host of other problems. Try to get your kids hooked on water as young as possible, and you won't have to worry about any battles you'd have to fight when you realize you need to reduce or eliminate their sugary drinks.
4. Feed 'em well
More bad news for your kids beloved treats: the unhealthy snacks need to go, as well. Since they're constantly growing and active, most kids need that morning and afternoon snack, so what you choose to provide for those snacks is absolutely crucial. Instead of sugary sweet snacks, find something healthy that your kids will still enjoy. There's lots of recommendations, and only you know what your kids might be inclined to try, so a simple Internet search will prove quite fruitful.
5. Keep them around for a while
If your kids play sports, especially sports involving some kind of contact (so, pretty much everything except golf and bowling), your child needs to be wearing a mouthguard. It does you no good to help your child perfectly maintain his teeth only to have a couple of them knocked out during his next soccer game. It might feel funny at first, and be somewhat inconvenient, but it's way less inconvenient than having to visit the dentist to take care of lost teeth. Even if your child is doing something as simple as riding a bicycle, it might be a good idea to have them wear a mouthguard, to ensure those pearly whites stay nice and safe.
Getting your kids to practice good oral hygiene and oral health habits isn't always easy, but when they flash that beautiful smile that melts your heart, it will be all worthwhile.