5 ways parents can help children create great dental habits
April 21, 2018 | 6:36 PM
by Courtesy of Statepoint
Regular dental checkups are essential to have healthy oral hygiene.

That first wiggly tooth indicates a new childhood milestone — loss of the first “baby” tooth. While this is often a time for cute photos and a visit from the tooth fairy, it should also be an opportunity to reinforce the importance of good oral care with children so that their new permanent teeth stay healthy and last a lifetime.

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases among children but it is also preventable. “The sooner the better when it comes to helping children understand the importance of taking care of their permanent (‘adult’) teeth. As children grow, encourage them to take more responsibility for their oral hygiene, but continue to supervise them until you’re comfortable with their routines,” says Dr Michael Hahn, national dental director for Cigna based in the US.

Dr Hahn recommends the following tips for a healthy mouth.

Attack plaque: Let your child know that “plaque” leads to tooth decay — it’s like your tooth “getting sick.” Plaque has bacteria and acids that can hurt a tooth’s outer enamel and cause tiny holes that lead to cavities. Brush for two minutes, twice a day. Help your child understand what two minutes actually “feels” like by playing a favourite song for that length of time, or use a kitchen timer, smartphone alarm, hourglass of sand or stopwatch.

Floss: Daily flossing is important too. Since flossing may be tricky for small hands, help them until about age 10.

Snack smart: Healthy teeth rely on smarter snacks. Fruits and vegetables can help reduce plaque buildup. On the other hand, sugary and sticky foods can remain on teeth for hours, providing time for bacteria and acids to begin their damage. If your children drink soda, encourage the use of a straw so less of the liquid coats their teeth.

Visit the dentist: Regular dental checkups are essential. These visits can detect problems when they are still small and are less complex to treat. Getting used to seeing the dentist in childhood will help keep this important practice going as an adult.

Reward positive behaviour: Praise your child for doing a good job. You know your child best — offer that “something special” as incentive, particularly when the dentist gives a great report. “It’s easier to teach a younger child good habits, than to break an older child of poor ones. Encourage your children to take good care of their teeth. You’ll put them on track for strong, healthy teeth that will last a lifetime,” says Dr Hahn.

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