Caring for your children’s teeth should always be a normal part of their daily routine. Developing good dental habits in children’s formative years can set them up for good oral health care lasting throughout their entire life. Providing children with healthy foods and snacks is also part of developing good dental care and can help teeth become stronger to fight plaque buildup. Finding a dentist near you that your child is comfortable with is additionally important in establishing good dental hygiene.
Good dental care starts in the infancy stage before a baby’s first tooth appears. Even if you do not see a tooth that does not mean it is not there. Teeth actually begin to form in the 2nd trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. So, before a baby starts teething, running a clean moist cloth over their gums in the morning and before bedtime will help to clean away any bacteria that may linger from bottle feedings. This will help to prevent cavities since even babies can get tooth decay.
As children grow, their dental care will improve so that by the time they turn 10, parental guidance should no longer be needed. Following a few simple rules can help children to have healthier teeth.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Limit sugary foods and starches.
- Drink water that has fluoride in it.
Children who brush and floss daily have an advantage of preventing gum disease. The early state of gum disease is known as gingivitis. If gingivitis is not treated, it can lead to a more serious condition called periodontitis. This condition affects the tissues that hold the teeth in place. Brushing and flossing remove the plaque buildup which is the primary cause of gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing also stimulates the gums which increases the flow of blood and oxygen to them. Since bacteria cannot survive in oxygen, they die off giving your teeth the chance to stay healthy.
Good dental hygiene alone will not prevent your child from getting oral diseases. Eating healthy foods can also improve and protect your child’s teeth. But, trying to get your child to eat foods and snacks that are better for them can sometimes be a challenge for parents, especially if they have a picky eater. What to do?
Here are some suggestions to help:
- Offer healthier options. Children are more likely to try something new if they feel like it was their idea.
- Let children help make their own plates. This will give them a feeling of independence making them more willing to try healthier foods.
- Combine healthier choices with foods your child/children already like.
- Snack wisely keeping in mind portion sizes. If a child wants to snack closer to lunch or dinner time, consider giving them some of the vegetables you are cooking with.
- Educate your child on healthier food choices. A trip to a local farm or even vegetable/fruit stand could make healthier eating more pleasing to a child once they understand where eggs, milk and vegetables come from. Let them explore and learn.
- Let children help with cooking meals. Although this may require some patience at times, allowing children to assist with meals will lead them to preparing their own healthy meals as they get older.
- Be the example. Your child’s healthy habits and choices are influenced by their environment, including you.
Smart snacking is a major part of keeping your child’s teeth healthy so should be limited to specific food choices, and how often. It is also wise not to allow your child to snack close to mealtime. Developing good eating habits leads to better health. So, what snacks will promote healthier teeth for your child:
- Apples, carrots, and celery – while not a substitute, crisp fruits and vegetables are also known as nature’s toothbrush and will stimulate the gums.
- Eggs – contain vitamin D, K, and phosphorus which helps to keep your teeth strong.
- Milk, cheese, yogurt – a good source of calcium which helps to repair tooth enamel.
- Broccoli and green leafy vegetables – contain vitamin C to help boost your teeth’s whiteness and improves oral health.
- Nuts and seeds – contain phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and calcium that helps to fight tooth decay.
It is essential for children to have fluoride to develop healthy teeth. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent tooth decay. Children need strong healthy teeth to be able to chew their food and to speak. Children who drink fluoride tap water and brush with a fluoride toothpaste will have fewer cavities than children who do not. To find out if the area you live in has fluoridated water, go to CDC’s My Water’s Fluoride website. You can also call your water company and request a recent copy of the Consumer Confidence Report which can provide this information too.
A good dental regime is essential for children to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Dr. Maestri, DDS performs a variety of dental services in the Acadiana area. If you are looking for a dentist for your child that is near you, please contact the office at 337-704-2126.