It’s one of the most troubling thoughts that goes through a mother’s head: is my kid healthy? We think about our children’s health a lot, but it’s all too easy to overlook their dental health, which can be crucial for their overall quality of life. And if you think you should start worrying about that only when they are a little older, you might want to reconsider. But what exactly are the steps to good oral health, and when should you start paying attention to it?
Teach good habits
If you make sure your child has good, healthy habits from the get-go, you can rest easy, knowing that they will be ready to take care of their teeth independently. This means teaching them to brush, floss and rinse early on, and always leading by example. Children will gladly join in if the whole family (adults included) are brushing their teeth together. You can also try rewarding them with gold stars, stickers, or an extra few minutes of cartoons. Also, make sure you explain to them exactly why oral health is important, and what can happen if they don’t brush their teeth often enough. However, make sure you do it gently, and take care not to instill the fear of dentists and dental problems, as they are almost guaranteed to need dental assistance one day.
Your child should get their first dental check-up by the time they are one year old. Even if their teeth aren’t coming in yet, checking their gum health is just as important and will make sure they are on the right track. It’s important to break the fear of dentists that many children have, so making sure your dentist is friendly and works well with kids is imperative. You can organize a meeting so your child can get to know the dentist beforehand. Do your research and find a reliable dentist in Sydney, Toronto or any big city near you, because bigger cities will give you a bigger pool of dentists to choose from. Remember that your own dentist might not be a good choice for your kid, if they don’t usually work with children.
Dental first aid
Kids are still learning about life and the world around them, so while they are exploring, they might accidentally hit their head, or trip and fall. It happens and, as with everything new, it can be a scary situation for both the parent and the child. And while most parenting classes prepare you for basic first aid, you might not know what to do when your kid’s teeth get damaged. The Australian Dental Association notes that it’s important to familiarize yourself with dental first aid, and you can talk to your dentist about the most important things to remember. It’s not a bad idea to also have your dentist’s phone number on hand, so that you can call them if you don’t know what to do in case of emergency.
Having a good diet is crucial for good oral health, in both kids and adults. Sugar and carbs should be brought to a minimum, and they should always brush their teeth after they’ve eaten something high in sugar. If you are putting them to bed with a bottle, it shouldn’t be filled with anything but water, and sugary juices should only be consumed during meals or as a special treat. For events like birthdays and holidays, your kids might want to indulge a bit more in treats, but the Canadian Dental Association has a helpful Halloween survival guide, and the tips can be used for other holidays as well. If your child needs to regularly take medication, be aware that it can often contain high doses of sugar to make it more appealing to the child, and that you might need to brush their teeth more often.
In the end, taking care of your kid’s teeth early on will save you a lot of time and money in the long run, and your kids will learn the proper way to take care of themselves once they leave the nest. Make sure you support them while they need your help with dental hygiene, and when they learn to do it by themselves, supervise them until you are sure they are completely independent. And no matter how beautiful their pearly whites turn out to be, your favorite photos will always be the ones where they are missing half of their baby teeth!