Eat your vegetables. Never skip breakfast. Wash your hands before eating. There are many important habits to teach your children to help lay the foundation for a long and happy life. But one crucial aspect of a child’s overall well-being that is often neglected is their oral health.
“Inadequate teeth brushing habits and poor diet are related to tooth decay in children, according to a number of studies,” says Marsha Butler, Vice President of Oral Care and leader of Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures (TM) initiative. “Each year, more than 51 million hours of school instruction are lost due to dental related illness. Parents play a key role in setting up a daily routine that illustrates the importance of taking care of your teeth.”
Here are some tips and oral hygiene habits for parents to implement and encourage to ensure your child’s healthy development:
Be an example. It’s no secret children learn best by observing. If your children see you brushing and flossing your teeth every morning and evening, they’ll follow your lead. If you brush before they get up or after they go to bed, consider changing your own routine. Make it exciting by incorporating your kids’ favorite songs and stories.
Check your water. Is the water in your home fluoridated? If not, talk to your dentist about possible supplement options, as toothpastes and some foods may provide the amount you need. Fluoride works with your saliva to protect the precious tooth enamel from both sugars and plaque.
Schedule regular checkups. When you’re a busy parent, it’s easy to let dental checkups slip off your radar, but making regular appointments may be more important than you think. Your pediatric dentist will assist in preventing dental disease and cavities and point out any developmental issues. Get your children acquainted with their dentist early and make sure they know the dentist’s office is nothing to fear. Even if you feel anxious about a dental visit, try not to show those feelings to your kids.
Seek helpful resources. It can be helpful to find a guide for teaching children proper oral hygiene habits. For example, parents and teachers alike can visit ColgateBSF.com to download free materials and activities specially designed to help educate kids about keeping their smiles bright. Colgate is committed to improving children’s dental health through its Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program. You can also try your local Boy Scout troop, where there is a Dentistry merit badge course (bsa.org).
Introduce flossing early on. Flossing removes food particles and plaque in places where a toothbrush can’t always reach. Beginning at age 4, you should floss for your children. By the time they reach age 8, most kids are able to floss on their own. Be sure to give regular reminders of how necessary it is for your kids to remember to floss.
Encourage a balanced diet. A well-balanced diet is essential for developing strong, decay-resistant teeth, so your children need the full range of vitamins and nutrients. Frequent snacking on sugar or starchy foods like cookies, candy, pretzels and potato chips combine with plaque on teeth to create acids that attack the teeth enamel and may lead to cavities.
Teach your kids the importance of dental hygiene and they’ll have healthy habits for the rest of their lives.