Happy New Year! It’s now 2017 and we suggest you add something often overlooked and yet very important to your new year’s resolution list: improving your children’s oral health. There are some small changes that could make a big difference come 2018. Read below and, as always, we’re here to answer your questions anytime!
- Buy them a timer for their bathroom
The golden rule of dentistry is, “two minutes, two times a day”. Too often, children brush for the duration of the “a,b,c’s” or count to 20, and don’t meet the recommended brushing time. When they fall short of two-minutes, they leave plaque on their teeth which can cause cavities and gum disease. When a child is taught to use a timer, they can truly know how long they are brushing. Most children come back after starting and tell us that they can’t believe how little they had been brushing! Another option is to purchase an electric toothbrush with an internal timer that will alert the child to the end of the two-minutes. Whatever method you choose, these good habits will stay with them into adulthood and help them have better oral health across their lifetime.
- Teach them to floss
Despite much of the media attention surrounding flossing in 2016, you will not regret your decision to continue flossing into 2017. For a more in-depth discussion of the benefits of flossing, we invite you to see our recent post:http://smiles4kids.com/really-need-floss/. When it comes to kids, we are often asked, when children should begin flossing. The answer: as soon as they have teeth that touch each other! Teeth in contact can block the bristles of a toothbrush from cleaning between the teeth. Unless floss is used, some food particles will always remain. Whether eight months, eight years or eighty, flossing is an important part of everyone’s oral health routine.
- Introduce them to xylitol gum
Some sugar-free gums contain a sugar substitute called xylitol, which actually helps control the bacteria that causes cavities. Used in moderation, two to three times a day, these gums can be chewed after meals to help reduce the risk of cavities. For a kid who loves sweets or gum, try this instead to give them their sweet fix while improving their oral health.
- Be mindful of their sugar consumption frequency
It would be naïve to suggest you can eliminate all sugar from a child’s life. In reality, the frequency of sugar exposure is more predictive of cavities than the absolute amount of sugar consumed. In 2017, make a decision to be more mindful of how often your children’s teeth are exposed to sugar. For kids who love sweets try and limit them along with juice and milk to meal times: give them dessert and keep their mid-meal snack something without any sticky carbohydrates!
- Encourage them to drink more water
Water is regularly touted as a beneficial component of a healthy diet. For kid’s teeth, water can help wash food particles from the teeth during and after a meal. Staying hydrated is important in producing adequate saliva, which is also important in cleaning teeth and buffering the oral environment thus avoiding cavities. Lastly, the more water they drink, the less they’ll have a sugary drink in their hands!
We wish you a wonderful 2017 filled with improved health, happiness and many beautiful smiles!