Encouraging Oral Health in Children – Tips for Parents

Oral health is an integral part of the overall health of children and is just as important as the oral health of adults. It’s never too early to begin teaching good oral hygiene to children. In this article, we will provide tips on how to encourage your child to take care of their teeth.

Behaviors learned at an early age tend to stick with your children throughout life and can significantly improve your child’s overall health. The need for this is increasingly important as tooth decay among children is on the rise in Australia and all over the world.

In fact, tooth decay is the number one chronic disease affecting children under the age of 18. This is an astounding fact but can be eliminated if children are encouraged to take care of their teeth.

As a parent, it’s our responsibility to help children develop proper oral health and get appropriate dental care. Here are some tips.

Encourage children to brush their teeth

When it comes to maintaining healthy teeth, the same rules apply for children as for adults. That is to brush twice a day for two minutes after breakfast and dinner.

However, getting your children to brush is a difficult part, you can get advice from dental nurses as they are registered with APHRA and have completed nurse bridging course in Australia and are hereby authorized to help patients in maintaining dental health. They will help you create a routine which gets your child to brush every day.

Also, make brushing fun as children find it boring to brush their teeth. For example, play a song while they brush their teeth. When the song ends, they know that they can rinse their mouth and know they are done with their oral routine.

You can also make a game out of brushing, give your child stickers as a prize when they are done with the brushing and make a wall chart to place those stickers on so they can see the progress they have gained. Set a target for a week and once they hit the target goal without missing, they get a special treat.

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Use a small amount of toothpaste

When you are encouraging your child to brush their teeth, use a small amount of toothpaste as too much toothpaste can create a lot of unnecessary foam. Try sticking to a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush.

Also, be sure to help your child learn to spit out the toothpaste after they have finished with brushing as swallowing toothpaste can cause fluorosis which leads to spots on the teeth. Teach your child to brush lightly and not too hard, forceful brushing can push the gums up making it more difficult to prevent cavities and can cause bleeding.

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Eat healthy meals

The first concern for parents should be what goes into your child’s mouth. The foods and drinks your child consumes are just as important as any dental care can be. Nutritious food such as vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains can contribute to a healthy mouth while foods with high sugar content, can lead to tooth decay and other chronic health conditions. Limiting the amount of sugar children eat such as candy and sugary beverages can help avoid early tooth decay.

Another important fact regarding nutrition is to have your child consume more dairy such as yogurt and cottage cheese. Also, keep an eye on the nutritional value of the products your child consumes.

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Discourage your child from sucking thumb

Thumb sucking is common in children and is their way of comforting themselves. It also helps soothe sore gums at the time of teething. However, there is nothing to fear about it, but you don’t want the habit to persist after about age three.

Studies have shown that thumb-sucking after age 3 can negatively affect a child’s oral health so it’s your responsibility to discourage them from sucking their thumb. You can try diverting their mind and engage them in an activity that needs both hands or try a reward based system.

This habit, over time, can deform and alter the structure of the jaw and teeth. You would then have to take your child to a dentist who with the help of dental technician would have to place an object inside the oral cavity of the child to rectify the teeth.

Dental technicians are people who fabricate dentures and other dental appliances to help rectify the problems with teeth and oral cavity. They undergo an in-depth training and hold a diploma in dental technology before being employed in a dental lab. There are multiple means of discouraging this habit of thumb-sucking. Do your research to determine what might be the best approach for your child.

Regularly visit the dentist

Consistent visits to the dentist office are beneficial for your child’s dental health. While brushing and flossing are great habits, regular visits to the dentist are just as essential.

Dental professionals can often foresee dental problems well before they might occur, such as cavities and misalignments. When treated in these early stages, the issues are usually less troublesome and less expensive to deal with. By not taking your child to the dentist every six months for a regular dental check-up, you are instilling in him or her that oral health is not important.

Children who do not go to the dentist regularly have more cavities that need fillings than children who have regular appointments. The last thing you want is to have your child with a mouthful of fillings. It is critical to teach the importance of oral health before your child’s adult teeth comes in as that set will need to last them a lifetime.

Make sure your child visits the dentist every six months. However, a trip to dentist office can be overwhelming for many children, but not anymore. Take your child to a pediatric dentist as they are specially trained in caring for tiny teeth and will often have toys or play areas to comfort your child while they wait.

What’s most important is that you have a knowledgeable and a friendly dentist who can educate you and your child on the appropriate care of the teeth. You should take your child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth comes in, or by their first birthday.

When it comes to oral health care for children, it’s all about education and making oral care fun. Find what tactics work best for your children, so you can adopt a routine that keeps them happily brushing every day.

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Annabel is a highly-qualified dental technician imparting knowledge to students and keeps himself updated with current trends in dental technology. She imparts knowledge to students not only in the classroom but also through her articles on dental technology and the courses to undertake. She is currently working with Australian Centre of Further Education (ACFE), which excels in training international and domestic students to become qualified health practitioners in Australia.

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