I firmly believe that having a healthy mouth is an important part of having a healthy body. I also believe that helping children keep a healthy mouth is an important part of helping them grow up healthy. I find that many dental issues such as cavities show up in children and unfortunately the effects can be felt for a lifetime. The adult front teeth generally come in when a child is five or six years old and the first molars which are our best chewing teeth come in when a child is six or seven. Also, good teeth help children eat healthier foods as it is hard to eat vegetables and fruits without teeth but very easy to ice cream. To keep children’s teeth healthy, I recommend controlling their sugar intake, finding ways to get them involved in brushing and flossing, and also supervising them during oral hygiene.
Keeping Children's Smiles Healthy
I think that it is pretty well accepted that children love sugar. Almost any child will eat an entire bag of Halloween candy and then gladly go after the sibling’s bag. Kids love sugar because it tastes good, but unfortunately, kids cannot realize the amount of damage that they are causing to their teeth. Sugar is the primary fuel that bacteria use to create cavities and sugar is linked to many other health issues such as obesity as well. High sugar content is found not only in candy but also “healthier” snacks such as dried fruit as well as sweet drinks such as soda and juice. To prevent cavities, I recommend no more than 1 glass of juice a day and water and white milk for the remainder of the day. At night time, only water is recommended for drinking as the sugar in milk and juice can stick to teeth and cause cavities. It is also important that your child does not have any easy access to candies. If a child has free range to eat as many cookies as he desires, he will likely eat too many.
Helping Children Build Healthy Habits
Getting children interested in brushing and flossing is another critical part of helping little ones keep their mouth healthy. I am always impressed with how many wonderful oral hygiene products that companies like Colgate and Crest make for kids. I can honestly buy any cartoon character brand on any flavor of toothpaste from mint to strawberry to bubblegum and I can even have sparkles on it. I recommend that all parents let their kids choose their own toothpaste as long as the toothpaste has fluoride in it because when kids choose their toothpaste they start to take ownership of their health. Next, I am a fan of the automatic brushes that play songs and tell kids when to move on to the next area of their mouth. These are great because kids often do not know for how long to brush their teeth and the songs help make the habit more engrained. My only caution with the electric toothbrushes is that I don’t recommend the more expensive automatic toothbrushes as some kids may not like them, and it is not fun to spend a lot of money for something that is never used. Finally, I like the little fun types of floss picks because they look cute and can help kids get more excited about cleaning their teeth.
How Parents Can Help
Finally, kids need proper adult supervision when brushing their teeth. My philosophy is that if a parent does not trust a child to wash the good plates without being watched, then the parent should not trust the kid to brush his teeth without being watched. I recommend that all kids be watched while brushing their teeth because I often find that kids will only focus on the front teeth and forget totally about cleaning the back teeth. If a child is too young to brush his teeth well, I recommend either assisting or if the kid is being a kid and does not want you to assist them then doing a lap to lap technique where one adult lets the child straddle them and the other adult brushes the teeth works well. Google the term Lap To Lap for a better explanation and video of how to do it. For better flossing, I find that giving your child a floss pic and letting them floss while they watch TV works really well as it is something mindless and still does a good job taking care of the problem. Finally, I recommend making all brushing and flossing a nighttime routine more than a morning routine for two reasons. First, more cavities happen at night time while sleeping so removing sugar from teeth before bed is more useful. Second is that generally night time is less hectic than morning and there is more of a chance to create a routine. A parent can more easily have ten minutes to help a child brush before bed than the ten minutes in the morning which is compounded with making breakfast and lunch as well as trying to get out the door to get to work.
Call our Gretna LA Dental Office
Kids teeth are important, and unfortunately, kids are not able to realize the importance of teeth. Kids rely on adults in their lives to help them develop good habits so that they grow up to be healthy adults. By limiting sugar and helping develop good oral hygiene habits, kids can have healthy mouths. If your child is due for a dental exam or if you have questions about how to help your kid’s mouth stay cavity-free, please call us at 504-392-5104 and we will help you out.