The foundation of healthy teeth in children and teenagers as well as adults is laid during their earlier years of life when they are still young. Poor habits of food intake, poor diet and inadequate brushing habits during a child’s early years of life have been shown in several studies to be related to the majority of dental health problems in children.
Therefore, it is crucial to establish proper oral health habits early enough to ensure the development of strong and healthy teeth. Parents, as role models, are key players in setting a routine and making their kids understand the importance of oral hygiene. Children are very sensitive to social stimuli and learn best by imitating their parents. Physiological and mental developments affect the oral health of children. Below are 5 reasons you need to teach oral health to your children from a young age.
Overall health reasons
It is important to have it in mind that the health of your kid’s teeth and gums can have a direct impact on their overall health. In as much as poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth loss, gum disease and decay, things could get worse. Several research findings have it that the inflammation from gum disease or periodontal disease increases the risks of Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes.
A balanced diet is essential for your child to develop strong and healthy teeth. In addition to a full range of minerals and vitamins, ensure your child’s diet includes plenty of phosphorus, calcium and proper levels of fluoride.
To instill good dental habits at a young age
Good dental care should start when your child is still young. In fact, you should begin regular dental appointments for your child during his or her first year. This will ensure your child is used to the environment and comfortable with the surroundings, all of which will instill proper dental habits in the future. Smart dental habits established when your child is still young will set the stage for life-long healthy dental habits. Kids who have brushed their teeth and regularly visited their dentists when young are more likely to understand why it is important to practice good healthy habits as they grow and develop permanent teeth.
Prevent cavities and tooth decay
Early childhood cavities are among the top chronic diseases affecting young children. The effects of cavities in young children range from tooth loss, crooked permanent teeth, poor self-image, tooth decay and severe pain. The latter can even disrupt the learning process. Teaching your children oral care at a young age can also be considered an investment with lifelong dividends. You can start setting a good example by taking good care of your own teeth. This can go a long way in preventing cavities and tooth decay, which are quite common today.
Ensure they have proper levels of fluoride
Proper toothpaste use and fluoride amounts are essential to ensuring your children’s teeth are healthy. This is especially the case if your child is prone to frequent snacking. However, you shouldn’t encourage your child to get used to snacking on candies, cookies and soft drinks as it may lead to increased risk of tooth decay. Fluoride combines with your tooth’s enamel to strengthen it. This is why it is essential to use dental products that contain fluoride.
Many municipal water supplies have the right amount of fluoride added to water for proper tooth development. You can always find out whether your local supply has the right amount of fluoride by calling your local water company. If the water does not contain any or enough fluoride, your kid’s dentist or pediatrician may suggest using a mouth rinse or fluoride drops in addition to fluoride toothpaste.
Establish proper brushing technique
Brushing of teeth, not only regularly but in the right way, is the single most important way to remove harmful plaque, a thin sticky film loaded with bacteria. As every mouth is different, there is more than one technique that is considered appropriate for your child. The decision on which technique to adopt is largely dependent on the child’s gum condition and teeth positions.
Most dentists recommend using a circular brushing technique. This involves brushing only a small group of teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth. The type of toothbrush matters as well. Starting at birth, you can clean your infant’s teeth using a cloth and water or an infant toothbrush. As children grow older, they will have the inclination to try and brush their teeth by themselves. Guide your kids to adopt proper brushing techniques. It is advisable to help your children brush their teeth until they are around the age of 7 to 8. Also, consult your child’s dentist regarding the best type of toothbrush to use and the appropriate time for your child to start using toothpaste.
Dr. Scott Laudon manages a large family dental practice in Anchorage Alaska, of which many of his patients started coming to his practice at a young age.