As parents, we naturally want the best for our kids. The first years of their lives are an incredible opportunity to form dental hygiene habits that make a positive difference to their entire lives. Children can be easily influenced and providing them with the skills and knowledge to take care of their teeth is the key to a lifetime of good health.
Most baby teeth start to erupt at around six months of age. As soon as you see tooth number one start to move in, you’ll know it’s time to book your child’s first dental visit. But even if their teeth are taking a little longer than usual to come in, it’s important to take your child to the dentist before their first birthday. This helps to catch any potential cavities and to build trust between your child and your dentist.
In between check-ups, it’s crucial to teach your child effective habits that can help them keep their teeth healthy for the rest of their life.
Caring for your oral health early assures better lifetime health, less money spent fixing problems and of course less discomfort and pain.
A Healthy Diet for Healthier Teeth
Healthy foods offer more dental benefits than you might expect. Fruits and vegetables stimulate saliva production, and can keep your child’s mouth hydrated. This in turn helps neutralize acids that wear away at the enamel, preventing cavities.
We know it can be difficult to completely cut sugar from your child’s diet, especially since so many sugary treats are marketed towards young kids. However it’s important to control the amount they consume and make sure they maintain a balanced diet.
Here are some suggestions for a balanced diet that can benefit your oral health:
- Fruits and vegetables: Combined, these should be half of what your child consumes each day. Not only do they have the benefits I mentioned above, they help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.
- Grains: Try to make sure at least half of the grains they consume are whole grains. Whole grains are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that help keep teeth and gums healthy.
- Dairy: Choose low-fat or fat-free products. Dairy products can help put minerals back into your child’s teeth that might have been lost and also helps rebuild tooth enamel.
- Lean Proteins: Opt for lean protein choices such as lean beef, fish and skinless poultry. Try to also include eggs, beans and legumes in their diet too. Good fats like these work against inflammation and are essential in keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
Introducing “Big Kid” Cups Early
Encouraging your kids to switch from bottles to sippy cups as early as six months can be extremely beneficial to their oral health. Your child should be able to use sippy cups on their own from around 12 to 15 months old, and even begin to sip from regular cups by their first birthday. If children continue using a bottle, they are more likely to develop tooth decay and early cavities.
It is also important to avoid filling their bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks and stick to formula or milk.
Kids Do What You Do, Not What You Say
As your children grow and begin to brush their teeth by themselves, it’s important to keep an eye on how they do it and observe their habits closely. Supervision during brushing ensures that no food gets left behind that could possibly start cavities. It’s also important that kids don’t swallow toothpaste: as with anything, toothpaste isn’t safe if someone consumes too much.
Kids can be highly influenced and model their own behaviour after yours. This means that practicing what you preach and letting them see you take good care of your own oral health is crucial. You could try brushing as a family and making it an event before bed, reinforcing to the kids that everyone brushes their teeth. Focusing on being a good role model can even allow you to take better care of your own dental health!
Make Regular Appointments a Habit
Early prevention is vital to avoid tooth decay in children. A family dentist can monitor tooth development and prevent early signs of tooth decay from turning into cavities.
Regular visits can also help your child build a relationship with the dentist and make them feel more comfortable to continue going back. Your dentist can also give you tips for better dental habits.
Making Your First Dentist Visit An Adventure
Dental care matters for all ages, but it’s never too early to start developing healthy habits to avoid cavities. If you’re looking for a positive experience for your little one’s first appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us!