Of course, we know what we’re supposed to do to take care of our teeth – brush and floss daily, stay away from overly-sugary foods and drinks, see our dentist regularly – and we do our best to keep up with that (…right?). But it’s important that we are also instilling that same diligence in our kids, which may be easier said than done. Here are five tips on how to maintain healthy teeth for your kids.
1. Take regular visits to the dentist.
Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be when their first tooth appears, or within six months of that event (but no later than their first birthday). During this first visit, the dentist will: obtain a dental history for your child; inspect for oral injuries, cavities or other problems; let you know of any risks in terms of dental health; clean your child’s teeth; and guide you on proper brushing habits and cavity prevention.
2. Eat healthily and drink fluoridated water.
Most cities fluoridate their public supply of water, so residents can receive their dose of fluoride easily. (If you live in a city where this is not the case, fluoride supplements are available.) Sugary snacks and drinks should be avoided; fruits and vegetables should be a big part of your child’s diet instead. Good snacks for healthy teeth include apples and carrots (for the vitamins and cleaning factor from the crunchiness) and cheese (for the calcium).
3. Use fluoridated toothpaste.
Fluoride is a very important part in helping to prevent cavities as it helps to build strong enamel. Though it’s a naturally-occurring mineral and you can get it through your diet and tap water (in most cities), it’s important also to be using toothpaste that contains that extra boost of fluoride.
4. Practice positive brushing habits.
Supervise your child’s brushing until you’re confident that they can do it properly and safely on their own. Then, make sure that they are brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day (morning and night).
5. Start flossing regularly.
This is a habit that’s important to instill early on. Parents may think that it’s not necessary until the permanent teeth have come in, but flossing should actually begin once teeth start to touch, since that’s when just brushing will not be enough to get rid of all that food and plaque.