Wellness

5 Ways Parents Can Protect Children’s Dental Health

Two girls laughing and brushing their teeth.

Children’s baby teeth lay the foundation for adult teeth. So if children take care of their teeth, they are more likely to have healthy teeth and gums when they are older. Most kids don’t know how to take care of their teeth on their own. Here are five ways parents and caregivers can protect children’s dental health.

Brush and floss daily

At least one in five children has tooth decay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease kids face. As most parents know, baby teeth lay a foundation for healthy permanent teeth. So daily tooth brushing and flossing can help protect children’s dental health. Review these toothbrushing tips.

Parents and caregivers should help kids brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Brush after breakfast and before bedtime. And don’t forget to help kids floss their teeth once daily to remove food trapped between the teeth and gums.

Many kids use more toothpaste than they need. So they end up ingesting too much fluoride. Read this blog to find out the right amount of toothpaste for kids.

Make brushing fun

Buy a kids toothbrush showcasing their favorite cartoon character or in their favorite color. Also, purchase flavored toothpaste made for kids. Use a timer to make sure they brush for a full two minutes each time. Many kids enjoy listening to music or watching a video while they brush their teeth, too.

Reward them

Create a chart to help kids remember to brush and floss. Each month, recognize their hard work with a reward. Download this toothbrushing chart to help your children get started. Children’s dental health begins with establishing good habits.

Schedule dental visits

Kids should see the dentist regularly to make sure their teeth and gums are healthy. The American Dental Association recommends that parents schedule their children’s first dental visit at age 1, or when the first tooth appears. Then set up appointments for checkups and cleanings as directed by the dentist.

Before the first dental visit, it may be helpful for kids to watch this video about what to expect.

Most kids get their molars by age 7. Since 80% of kids’ tooth decay occurs on these chewing surfaces, the dentist may recommend sealants to protect these teeth.

Eat nutritious foods

Children’s dental health also requires a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and lean meats. Offer healthy snack choices, such as low-fat cheese and yogurt, veggies, almonds and fruits. For drinks, provide water or low-sugar beverages. After eating a sugary treat, have kids swish water around in their mouth to rinse off gums and teeth.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research 

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