You probably already know that keeping your teeth and gums clean is a huge part of your overall health. Problems in your mouth can contribute to many other issues like heart disease, diabetes and stroke, so it’s important to make sure you’re diligent about brushing, flossing, and seeing your Harrisonburg VA dentist regularly for cleanings.
If you have kids, it’s even more important that you help them to prevent these problems later in life, and the best way to do that is to teach them good habits at a young age. Here are 10 tips from Dr. Eye at Exceptional Smiles Family Dentistry in Harrisonburg for keeping your kids’ teeth clean and healthy.
- Buy Fun Products- If their toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash have a favorite cartoon character or fun shapes and colors, children are much more likely to want to use them. When you’re at the store, let your kids choose which colors and flavors they want to make brushing less of a chore.
- Use Tinted Mouthwash- Even if they’re brushing every day, kids may not have proper technique at first, leaving behind plaque and food particles that can lead to decay. Try using a mouthwash or tablet that turns plaque a bright color if they missed a spot. These products show them where to concentrate on better cleaning, and make brushing a little more fun.
- Limit Sugary and Acidic Foods- Many juices and other drinks that are supposed to be healthy for kids contain high levels of sugar and acids that wear away tooth enamel and contribute to cavities. Limit these drinks along with candy and other sweets as much as possible, and make sure to have kids brush their teeth immediately after eating or drinking them.
- Use An Electric Toothbrush- Electric toothbrushes are typically much more effective at removing plaque and food particles than manual brushing. As an added benefit, kids may find brushing with an electric toothbrush more fun, and there are many different varieties made specifically for children at different stages of growth.
- Give Them Healthy Snacks- At snack time, steer clear of sweets and starchy foods and opt for healthier alternatives instead. Crunchy fruits and vegetables, cheese, yogurt and nuts are all good options that help keep your kids’ teeth strong and healthy. Plus, veggies like carrots and celery can actually help clean teeth as they chew. For more ideas, check out Dr. Eye’s Favorite Foods for Healthy Teeth.
- No Milk Before Bed- For infants who are still drinking milk or formula, it’s important to remember not to give it to them right before bedtime or let them fall asleep with a bottle. Milk contains sugar that can lead to early childhood caries or “baby bottle tooth decay” if not cleaned away before they go to sleep.
- Use Dental Sealants- Sealants are thin, plastic-like coatings that are brushed onto teeth to provide a protective barrier between food and chewing surfaces. Sealants can last up to ten years and are recommended by the American Dental Association to help prevent cavities during childhood.
- Make A Reward System- A chart with stickers for each day helps to keep track of daily brushing and flossing, and can even make it something kids look forward to doing. Consider giving them a small prize for filling the whole chart to motivate them and make it fun. You can find several free printable charts at Dentists4kids.com.
- Teach Them Why It’s Important- Kids often want to know the “why” behind things that you ask them to do. Teach them what makes oral hygiene important, and what can happen if they neglect their teeth and gums. Show them videos online, or try the egg or apple experiment to demonstrate what happens to damaged teeth.
- Keep Up With Dental Appointments- No matter how good your kids’ oral hygiene habits are, they still need to go to the dentist on a regular basis for checkups and cleanings.
Dr. Eye has completed a pediatric residency program and is trained to work with kids as young as one year old, so call our office at (540) 434-5500 or visit our website to book an appointment for your child today!