Sometimes we feel like there are so many demands on parenting that we neglect our kids’ dental health. Here are pointers for helping our children’s teeth and gums remain strong and healthy.
Being a parent means caring for our children’s general health and well-being, which means caring for them holistically. This involves ensuring they remain physically healthy and that they’re safe from harm, and that they grow up in a place and family where their mental health is allowed and encouraged to thrive.
Parenting can be very demanding, which is why it’s understandable that some parents often neglect their children’s dental and oral health. It’s just not always on top of the parents’ to-do list, especially when we also have doctor’s appointments and homework to consider—unless you’re a dentist or work in the dental field. Nonetheless, it’s never too late, and being in quarantine is a great time to teach your kids healthy habits that will keep their teeth and gums strong and healthy. Here are some tips and pointers for teaching your kids how to care for their mental health.
Be strict about brushing
Experts say that brushing your teeth twice a day is enough, and to do so for at least two minutes every morning when they wake up and every evening before they go to bed. You can also turn it into a bonding moment—invite them to brush their teeth with you in your bathroom and do it regularly, until such time they do it of their own accord. Use fluoride toothpaste since it can help strengthen the enamel in the teeth and help prevent cavities.
Give them a healthy diet
It may be tempting to let our kids run wild with whatever food they want to eat, but it will do your children a world of good if you teach them good dietary habits as early as possible. Studies show that calorie-rich junk foods can help rewire a growing teen’s brain. Consuming too much unhealthy food might eventually make it difficult for them to resist unhealthy eating habits in the future. Don’t wait for your kids to be teenagers before encouraging them to eat healthy yet yummy dishes. There is no shortage of recipes that don’t have as much sugar and calorie content without sacrificing tastes.
While there’s nothing wrong with giving them the occasional chocolates and carbonated drinks, avoid allowing these unhealthy foods to be part of their regular diet.
Don’t neglect dentist visits
Your kids’ dentist knows and understands your children’s teeth and gum best, and at the same time, they’re in the best position to help address whatever dental or oral issues your kids may be facing. Google may be a great source of information. Still, not every opinion you see on the internet is 100 percent accurate or based on scientific facts and data, so your pediatric dentist is the most reliable person to answer your questions since they also specialize in caring for growing children’s teeth.
Make sure to bring your kids to their dentist every six months for cleaning and general check-up. Bringing them regularly can help prevent problems like cavities, eventually evolving into bigger problems later in life when left unchecked.
Lead by example
Studies show that parents’ own oral health greatly influences their kids’ own dental health and hygiene. Whether you like it or not, your kids are watching you, and they are observing if what you’re telling them is aligning with your own actions. When you tell your kids that dental care and brushing their teeth are important, make sure to back up your claim by practicing it yourself. Make it a teachable moment—teach them the best practices for brushing and gargling by doing it yourself and showing them. When it comes to teaching our kids anything, showing and telling need to work hand-in-hand.
Don’t lead with fear
Some parents, to make their kids care for their teeth more, tend to use scare tactics. They use pictures of people with unhealthy or missing teeth to scare their kids by showing what can happen when they don’t prioritize their dental and oral health. This is counterproductive. When it comes to our kids, positive reinforcement is most effective—meaning it’s better to use encouraging and uplifting words, giving them rewards for good behavior instead of punishment for bad ones, and ignoring obnoxious attention-seeking behavior instead of reprimanding them for it.
Start them young
It’s never too early to teach your kids good and healthy habits. Our children are very malleable, and the habits we teach them now can help influence the kind of adults they will be. Don’t leave their dental health up to chance.