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Teaching Kids About Dental Health (and Reminding Ourselves)

Spend a few seconds near a child’s face and you’ll notice the concept of oral hygiene often doesn’t come naturally. Everything is new for children – they learn and grow by observing our examples and through our intentional teaching. The question is how we, the adults, know how to get kids to “buy-in” to dental health.

With patience, creativity, and some level of commitment to “going with the flow,” there are many ways to get started!

Baby Steps for Baby Teeth

According to most children, by about two years old, will already have most of their teeth. By two, most kids are well-practiced in offering cheesy, ear-to-ear smiles… what better time to start brushing!

Ask them to show you their biggest smile, then show them your biggest smile. Tell them that the easiest way to keep a shiny smile is to brush their teeth. If you have a child that is very observant, show them how you brush your teeth. Hopefully, they will want to have their own turn and get excited when you show them their very own toothbrush.

Bottle Weaning for Teeth Gleaming

The University of Manitoba conducted surveys beginning in 2000 to investigate causes of tooth decay in children under the age of six. The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) shared a link to this study on their website. The CDA also links to a Globe and Mail article that offers the following quote from Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, director of the Specialty Training Program in Dental Public Health at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry:

“As soon as babies have teeth, they need to be brushed. Babies shouldn’t go to bed with a bottle, as the sugars in fluids such as milk can cause cavities.”

The University of Winnipeg survey results would agree with this advice. They created a simple infographic to give tips on how to begin weaning your child off a bottle, and when.

Snacks that Fight Plaque

Did you know that eating certain types of foods can actually help reduce or help fight plaque buildup? According to an article by the University of Rochester Medical Center, incorporating these foods can help supplement your child’s dental routine:

  • Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Foods with fiber help keep your teeth and gums clean, says the American Dental Association (ADA). They also get saliva flowing. Next to good home dental care, this is your best natural defense against cavities and gum disease….”

  • Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and other dairy products. Cheese is another saliva maker. The calcium in cheese, and the calcium and phosphates in milk and other dairy products, help put back minerals your teeth might have lost due to other foods. They also help rebuild tooth enamel.”

There are a lot of other great recommendations within the article. See the whole list by clicking the link above.

At the end of the day, if something is going to be helpful for our children’s oral health, it will probably be helpful for ours. Are you going to incorporate any of the above tips? Make an appointment with us today and you can ask our dental team for even more suggestions for your child (and you)!

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