Because developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, February is designated for National Children’s Dental Health Month. Now in its 63rd year, this month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, health care providers and others to promote the benefits of good oral health to children and adults, caregivers, teachers and many others.
Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialize. We believe in innovative oral health education so that parents and children understand the impact of sugar on teeth and the importance of a good oral hygiene regime. A few key lessons include:
Teach kids about how sugar impacts their teeth.
We might understand it, but it can be hard for children to understand that the fizzy drinks they’re consuming and the sweets they’re eating are directly impacting their oral health. With very young children, delay introducing sugary drinks as long as possible. If they only have milk and water, they don’t want anything else. As they get older, you can discuss the sugar content of products and make your child aware of the risks. Sometimes it comes down to showing children how much sugar is in their food.
Encourage oral hygiene by example.
Children will understand the importance of tooth brushing if they see their parents taking care of their teeth.
There are a few ways parents can help teach kids that looking after their teeth is important from an early age: make it part of your everyday routine, brush before bed and at one other time during the day. Make sure you have time to do this properly with the children. We often advise that children’s brushing should be monitored until they are seven years old.
We also prefer that parents get children involved as much as possible. Get them to pick a toothbrush with their favorite character, or play their favorite music while they’re brushing (there are even apps for this!) There are also mobile games which you can brush along to ‘kill all the bugs’ which help motivate them. A reward chart to track their brushing habits and also diet habits too are great ways of getting them actively involved.
The next big step is to get them to the dentist – something kids can (understandably) get scared about. We’ll have tips for calming nerves and preparing your child in an upcoming blog.