Good habits are formed at an early age. But when it comes to the oral health of children, some parents don’t take it seriously.
Dr. Susan Maples DDS, a top eight innovator in U.S. dentistry and author of Blabber Mouth: 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You To Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life, says, “There is a direct connection between oral health and systemic health. Children must take care of their teeth and gums not just for the oral health benefits, but to keep the rest of their bodies healthy as well.”
Dr. Maples’ tips:
- Layoff the fruit juice: Parents often think fruit juice is a healthy choice for a drink. Juice is loaded with sugar which feeds cavity bags. When consumed regularly, it can predispose children to type 2 diabetes. Water is the best option for beverages. Drink less fruit juice and eat more fruit.
- Only use soft bristle toothbrushes: When it comes to how hard the bristles of the toothbrush should be, the only choice is not hard at all. Make sure you always choose soft bristles to avoid traumatizing your gums. Scrubbing with a medium or hard bristle brush can make the gums recede from the teeth and it’s irreversible except through surgery.
- Parents need to supervise brushing and flossing: Letting children take care of their own teeth without being shown the proper techniques can be disastrous. Just as you would help your children tie their shoes, help them brush and floss. Kids need supervision to safely and effectively remove plaque until they prove they know what they’re doing. Make sure they’re getting those hard to reach spots in the back of the mouth.
- Don’t avoid or neglect preventive dental visits: Cavities between teeth can only be detected with x-rays. Your children need to see the dentist twice a year. Make appointments at times you’ll remember like on their birthday, at the beginning of the new year or at the start of the school year.
- Cavities in children need to be treated: Some parents think that cavities in baby teeth can be ignored because these teeth will fall out eventually. You can’t ignore cavities even in baby teeth. They must be treated or they can create dangerous infections and abscesses.
- Some bleeding is expected: Blood isn’t always the sign of something bad. If your child’s gums bleed when they brush or floss, don’t stop their routine. Bleeding is a natural response when you clean inflamed gums and isn’t from brushing or flossing too hard. Keep at it to reduce the bacteria and avoid periodontal disease. The bleeding will subside as the bacteria load is cleaned up. If bleeding persists, see your dentist.
- Fluoride is a must: Fluoride promotes healthy and strong teeth for a lifetime. Both fluoride in the water supply (or a prescription supplement) and topical fluoride in the dental office and in toothpaste are critically important to help avoid cavities. Make sure and use an age appropriate toothpaste because until a child can spit, he shouldn’t chance swallowing fluoride.