As parents, it’s not possible to overstate the importance of maintaining great oral health to your children.
Even though it is important to keeping on top of your health with dental visits, you also must keep your children on top of their own oral health care routine. This means starting healthy habits at a young age. Research shows that children who grow up with good dental habits will likely continue them for the rest of their life.
With that in mind, here are 5 things your child should do every day to protect their teeth:
1) Brush before bed
Your child should brush their teeth at least twice a day, but if they are going to skimp on any time of day, make sure it isn’t bedtime.
Saliva plays a crucial role in your oral health. It fights germs and contains proteins that protect tooth enamel and prevents tooth decay. It also reduces bad breath.
You have far less saliva when you sleep, which is why you wake up with bad breath. If your child fails to clean your teeth before bed, plaque and other germs build up in their mouth overnight, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Flossing does what a toothbrush can’t. Plaque builds up between teeth where toothbrushes can’t reach. In the long term, a build-up of plaque can lead to decay and gum disease. Flossing clears out this plaque with just gentle pressure.
Flossing is great because it enables you to clean parts of your gums that are difficult to reach, removing plaque and any persistent remnants of food.
Ideally, your child should floss every day. Plaque begins to harden after eating and becomes near-permanent after a few days. Flossing every day will prevent the build-up of this cavity-causing substance.
3) Use a fluoride toothpaste
Fluoride has come under scrutiny because of the potentially damaging effects it can have on some parts of the body. In reality, it does not reach anywhere near dangerous levels in day to day life and is a necessity for good dental care.
Fluoride is so important because it helps to harden tooth enamel, which is the outer protective structure of a tooth. Enamel is the hardest material in the body and is made of calcium and phosphate.
When your child eats sugary foods, saliva attacks the acids attacking your teeth and replaces the calcium and phosphate that has been stripped away. Fluoride helps your enamel take this back in and forms a powerful defense with the two minerals to prevent cavities.
4) Limit sugary foods
Sugar produces acids in your mouth that attack your teeth. Consuming too much sugar can lead to cavities and is widely known to play a significant role in serious dental problems. It was recently proven that people should limit their intake of sugar to 5 percent of their daily calories to avoid these issues.
Experts have also found that starch-rich food such as bread can be problematic, as these foods linger in your mouth and break down into the simple sugars that cause tooth decay.
Encourage your children to avoid foods with added sugar — where the sugar does not occur naturally, like sweets and chocolate — and opt for fiber-rich food like fruit and veg where possible.
5) Clean teeth carefully
Cleaning your teeth is obviously important, but there is a wrong way to do it.
Make sure that your child is brushing each tooth and not rushing the process. They could miss spots, meaning your teeth won’t be as clean as they think. Careless cleaning can harm your gums and cause bleeding.