8 Surprising Ways Parents Can Protect Children’s Oral Health
When my daughter was an infant I had one of those fabric seats that fit into the grocery cart. The fabric was meant to keep her from mouthing the germ-filled cart and prevent her from catching the latest virus. Using that fabric seat was short-lived but my worry about my child’s health continued. I worried about coughs, drippy noses and fevers and while a tooth’s arrival in our house was marked with a pause for the disruption in sleep, we didn’t think about her oral health.
Baby teeth will just fall out, right?
No need to worry.
But in fact baby teeth are very important. Cavities in baby teeth can be painful and make it difficult for your child to eat, sleep, play and learn. And cavities in baby teeth can lead to cavities in adult teeth.
We bought the training toothpaste and tried our best to brush her teeth regularly but it wasn’t until we took our child to her first dental appointment that we really learned some surprising ways that we could help protect our child’s oral health and overall health. Most importantly, we learned that taking care of the baby teeth was, in fact, very important. Now, that little girl is patiently awaiting her sixth lost tooth.
We have partnered with The Mighty Mouth campaign to help parents understand that good oral health is essential to overall health. And good oral health starts with baby teeth, too. With The Mighty Mouth, I’ve put together the following 8 surprising ways parents can protect children’s oral health.
- Know that cavities are caused by a simple equation: Germs+Food+Time on Teeth. Tooth decay is not just caused by the type of foods your children eat but also how often your children eat. Snacking constantly means teeth are exposed to cavity-causing acid attacks. Drink water after your snack to rinse off your teeth.
- Have your child’s teeth screened by a dentist or physician by the age of one. Review your child’s oral health with your provider by asking questions about how to prevent early decay, brushing procedures, pacifier and thumb sucking and anything unusual about their oral health. You are your child’s best role model. Remember this role when it comes to dental visits, talk about your own appointment or allow your child to witness you getting your teeth cleaned.
- Start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as teeth begin to touch. Flossing removes the gunk that toothbrushes can’t reach. Set an example and floss your own teeth daily.
- To strengthen your children’s teeth, brush them with fluoride toothpaste. For toothpaste amounts, use a rice-sized amount until age 3 and then a pea-sized amount. Your child may be ready to practice brushing at about age 4 or 5, but they still need your help until they are 8 years old, or until they can tie their shoes. Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day. Always brush at bedtime. Brush soon after your child has a snack that is high in carbohydrates (like crackers or pretzels), sticky (like raisins) or a sweet drink (including juice and sports drinks). If brushing is not possible, rinse with water. Replace the toothbrushes in your house every three to four months.
- Remember baby teeth are important. Cavities in baby teeth can lead to cavities in adult teeth.
- Taking care of your children’s oral health is key to their overall health and future health. A clean, healthy mouth that is free of infection can improve health problems and decrease overall health care costs. When you visit the dentist, talk to the dentist about sealants. Sealants are best to get between the ages of 6-13 and prevent cavities by sealing out germs on hard-to-clean molars. The sealants can be applied at the dentist office and are covered by many insurance plans.
- Don’t share utensils or food because it could be a cavity starter for your baby. Model healthy habits like using your own utensils and resist the urge to clean off pacifiers or utensils with your mouth. Parents can pass cavity-causing germs to their babies. And if you’re pregnant it is important to get dental care because an infection in the mouth can spread throughout the body.
- Teach your kids to choose tooth healthy foods and snacks. Be the best role model for your child. Choose mouth-friendly foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, nuts, whole grains and lean meats. Try to avoid frequently eating sticky, sugary or gummy treats. When your kids do enjoy those “sometimes” foods like sweets, have them eat the treats at mealtime and eat all at once instead of slowly nibbling or sipping through the day to reduce time on teeth.
The Mighty Mouth campaign is all about helping people understand that oral disease can be prevented and that good oral health is essential to overall health.
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This post was sponsored by Mighty Mouth; however, as always, all opinions are exclusively my own.