Healthy teeth are important for your child’s overall health. They help your children eat and talk. Strong oral care helps set good dental habits as your child grows. Poor oral care can lead to infection, disease or other teeth problems.
Help make dental hygiene fun with these tips:
- Let children help choose their own toothbrush. They can pick one that has a favourite colour or character.
- Let children help choose toothpaste. They can pick their favourite flavour.
- Read books or watch videos that talk about dental hygiene.
- Use a timer to make sure kids brush their teeth for 2 minutes. Or play their favourite song to help keep track of time.
- Reward children for good oral care. Do not give them food or sugary treats. Offer something healthy or simple instead, like apple slices or a gold star.
- Plan a fun activity following your child’s dentist visit.
Path to Improved Health
The Role of Fluoride
Fluoride is important to your child’s dental health. It is known to reduce cavities in baby (primary) teeth and adult (permanent) teeth. It also helps make teeth strong by hardening the tooth enamel. Most children get fluoride in drinking water. Many cities are required to add fluoride to tap water. Water filters do not remove fluoride and are okay to use. You should not use “reverse osmosis” water filters.
If your water does not contain fluoride, your child may need to take an oral fluoride supplement. Talk to your Miami Smile Dental dentist to see if your child needs this. Once your child starts going to the Miami Smile Dental dentist, they will get a fluoride varnish or cleaning on their teeth.
Too much fluoride can cause tooth stains and be harmful to your child’s health. Be sure your child does not swallow fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash. Follow all instructions for fluoride supplements.
Brushing and Flossing
Dental hygiene should begin when your child is a baby. Start using a soft child-size toothbrush around the age of 1 or 2. You should brush your child’s teeth with water at least twice a day. You also can add a small dab of toothpaste that doesn’t have fluoride in it. This type of toothpaste is safe for your child to swallow. Once your child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste, you can switch to one that has fluoride. Only use a small amount. Teach your child to spread it among their teeth, gums and tongue. Have your Miami Smile Dental dentist show you the right way to brush your child’s teeth.
Your child likely will need help brushing their teeth until they are 7 or 8 years old. Around this time, they can start using a longer sized toothbrush. You should switch out toothbrushes every 3 to 6 months or when the bristles look worn. Children should brush their teeth for 2 minutes. Flossing is another key part of your child’s oral care routine. Teach your child to floss at least once a day. You can buy floss that comes on a handle to make it easier.
You should also teach your child to brush his or her tongue. This helps reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. Be sure that your child knows to brush his or her teeth before bed, after all, eating and drinking (except water) is done.
Cavities are holes that form in your teeth. These can occur when bacteria build up in your mouth. Sugar in food and drinks turn into an acid, which can eat away at your teeth. Cavities are common in children because their teeth can be harder to brush. Everyone in your family should take good care of their teeth. People who have cavities can pass the cavity-causing bacteria to unborn babies, infants and children.
Your child may be at risk for cavities if they:
- Have white spots or brown areas on their teeth.
- Have ongoing special health care needs.
- Do not go to the dentist often.
- Were born early or had a low birth weight.
Safety is another big part of dental hygiene. If your child plays sports, they should wear a mouth-guard. This is a soft, plastic retainer that covers the teeth and sometimes the lips. It helps protect your child’s mouth from injuries. Talk to your Miami Smile Dental dentist if you need a custom-fit mouth-guard.
Read more about: Sports That Require Mouthguards
Best and Worst Foods for Healthy Child’s Teeth
Below, we bring you some tips on what is the best or worst food for your child’s teeth healthy.
Best Foods for Healthy Teeth
Apples – An apple a day could keep the cavities away. Chewing apples and other crunchy, high-fibre fruits can scrub away the plaque from teeth. As a bonus, this fruit is full of vitamins and minerals and makes an easy snack.
Eggs – Eggs are an excellent source of calcium, protein and vitamin D, which are important minerals for oral health. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium, which builds and maintains strong.
Milk, Cheese and Yogurt – Milk, cheese and yoghurt are rich in calcium, casein and phosphorus which can protect tooth enamel. The nutrients in milk products can neutralize some of the acid produced by plaque bacteria.
Celery and Carrots – Just like apples, these crunchy vegetables contain a lot of water and require a lot of chewing which can scrub tooth surfaces. The water and fibre in these vegetables balance the sugars and help clean teeth. Also, celery has fibrous strands, making this vegetable nature’s floss!
Broccoli and Green Leafy Vegetables – Thanks to their high level of vitamins and minerals, broccoli and green leafy vegetables can provide big benefits for oral health. The folic acid found in leafy greens such as spinach and kale is known to help improve the health of teeth and gums.
Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds also make a great mouth-friendly snack! Acids remove tooth enamel, and foods with high amounts of calcium and phosphorus, such as almonds, peanuts and cashews, can protect teeth by replenishing those minerals.
Food That Can Cause Tooth Decay and Cavities
Sugary Drinks – It is no secret that too much sugar is damaging to your health and can cause cavities. Organisms feed on the sugar on your teeth and turn it into acid, which destroys tooth enamel and causes decay.
The acids and sugar found in carbonated soft drinks combine to cause tooth damage. Even sugar-free diet sodas can erode enamel with the acids content. While non-carbonated sports drinks may seem like healthy options, they are still acids and sugary.
Citrus Fruit and Juices – Citrus fruits are a source of Vitamin C and nutrients, and they are good for you in many ways. However, grapefruit and lemon, in particular, are highly acids and can erode tooth enamel over time.
Juices, even those that claim to be 100% fruit juice, often contain high levels of sugar which can cause tooth damage. Drinking low-fat milk water is recommended over juice.
Chewy Candy – Eating tons of sugar is bad for tooth health, and the candy is full of it. It can cause cavities and get stuck in crevices in the tooth.
Chips, Bread and Pasta – Starches made from white flour are simple carbohydrates. They break down into simple sugars in the body which can lead to tooth decay. Eating chips for a snack is not recommended, not only because they provide no nutritional value, but also because the starch in them can adhere to teeth.
Read more about: Taking Care of Your Teeth (for Teens)