As family dentists serving Middleburg Heights and Cleveland, we’ve treated generations of family smiles. We began treating many of our adult patients when they were children. Now that they’re adults, we treat their children too.
For us, dentistry is a family tradition. You can never begin too early — the sooner you start a kid down the road to great dental health, the healthier and more beautiful their smiles will be, even into adulthood.
We’re not going to lie to you: It’s tough to teach children good dental habits. But the earlier you start, the easier it gets. They’ll practice healthy dental habits the rest of their lives — they’ll have beautiful smiles and fewer dental problems, on average.
Here are 6 things you can do to start your kids on the right track to a beautiful smile and a lifetime of healthy teeth.
Ice cream, candy and even soda pop are all right once in a while, but don’t make a habit of it. Sugar is the leading cause of tooth decay. It destroys the enamel and leads to cavities.
Believe it or not, but juice is loaded with sugar and acidity, which breaks down teeth. Encourage drinking milk or water with meals instead.
Brush with Your Kids
Naturally, you should have your kids brush regularly — for one minute for younger kids, two minutes for older children. But you should also brush with them and have them watch you brush. Kids learn through imitation. Parents need to practice what they preach. Show them healthy brushing practices — in concentric circles on the front of the teeth, across the tops, and behind the teeth. You’re the model they learn best from!
Give Your Kids Rewards for Brushing
A little bribery goes a long way. Give your child a sticker, let them pick out the family TV show, promise a trip to the playground — all well deserved rewards for brushing. You could keep a toothbrushing chart and if it’s filled by the end of the week, reward your child with a trip to the zoo.
Pro tip! Avoid providing candy as an incentive. Remember, the goal is healthy dental care. Don’t short-change yourself by giving away sugar that will only contribute to tooth decay.
Read Books About Dentists, Teeth, & Dental Care
There is a lot of fun kid’s literature on going to the dentist, taking care of your teeth, and the importance of brushing. Check these books out of the library and read them to your child. Reading can be both educational and entertaining.
Ask Your Dentist About Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are coverings that dentists place on the teeth far back in the child’s mouth that are difficult to brush. They provide extra protection and help reduce cavities and fillings.
Make Trips to the Dentist Fun
Okay, a lot of this is on us. We try to make your child’s visit to the dentist as fun as possible, especially for the younger kids. We give them rides in the dentist chair. Let them pick out their favorite toothbrush. Show them entertaining and educational models that demonstrate dental care and the importance of brushing. You should do what you can to also make trips to the dentist less stressful. Remember, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of good habits!