Children are like sponges. They take everything on board around them. What we do as parents, they observe and will not miss a beat in mimicking. For better and for worse. So when it comes to maintaining good dental hygiene and helping them establish solid habits for oral care, like all things, you need to set the example. Good oral health starts from a young age. From what your child eats, to how they clean their teeth. As an adult, you may look back on your own childhood and see where and when you didn't maintain the best oral care. Maybe years of drinking coffee and wine, smoking and eating sugary foods has resulted in a far from perfect Hollywood smile. Thankfully, there are at-home teeth whitening strips and other products that you can use to help your teeth to some extent. But for your young children, what you do to help them now to establish healthy habits will set them up for greater success as an adult. Here are 5 helpful tips you can teach your children to help them care for their teeth.
- Establish A Morning and Night Routine
Even adults struggle with maintaining good dental hygiene and habits. So it's important to ingrain these healthy habits into your child's morning and night routines from a young age. Teach them to brush for two minutes in a circular motion and to always spit out their toothpaste. If they stand in the bathroom with you while you do the same, it can become a fun bonding opportunity. The best way to get into a routine is to brush straight after breakfast and dinner so it won't be a fight come bed time and lost among the other things that need to be done.
- Don't Bring Sugary Drinks and Snacks Into The House
While it may be naive to think you can control what goes into your child's mouth 100% of the time, you can at least decide what food and drinks come into your home. Sugar is one of the leading culprits that contribute to tooth decay. When children are raised on a high sugar diet, it's setting them up for long term oral health issues. Soda drinks, processed snacks and candy should be rare treats and treated accordingly. The sugars in these foods feed the bacteria in your mouth which can lead to cavities and gum disease. Save them for special occasions so your children don't reach for these sweet temptations and develop an unhealthy sugar addiction.
- Teach Your Children About Oral Care
Rather than simply telling your children to brush their teeth, show them why it's important. Empower them with this information so they have a reason to keep up the good habit even when you aren't watching. Educate them about fillings, tooth decay and the tooth aches that come when you don't take care of your teeth. This isn't to say you need to use scare tactics, as it can be done in a positive and empowering way. But it stops habits like brushing your teeth becoming something they do because 'mom and dad say so' and rather, something they do because they know it's good for them.
- Eat The Right Food
Foods high in calcium are always touted as being important for building strong teeth. But it isn't the only nutrient you should be taking note of. Vitamin D is important in helping your body effectively absorb calcium so make sure your children get some sunshine each day. Magnesium is another important mineral which aids the body in processing calcium effectively. Foods rich in magnesium, like almonds, dark leafy greens, fish, pumpkin seeds and high quality yogurt are important for your child's oral health. A well rounded diet that comprises mainly of whole foods is the best way to make sure your child is eating well for their teeth.
- Encourage Them To Smile!
Most importantly, give your children something to smile about. No child should grow up being afraid to smile because of their teeth. Whether they're missing a tooth or have a gap, a child should be able to smile without inhibition. Nothing is as beautiful as a child having fun, smiling and enjoying life.