Guest Post by Jennifer Landis
Kids don’t like doing what they must do for their health, from eating vegetables to brushing their teeth afterward. Brushing their teeth comes with sneaky shortcuts, and trying to get your kid to floss is torture to them.
Channeling a child’s ability to focus on one thing at a time feels like trying to catch an elusive firefly. When they do brush their teeth, it’s hard to ensure they brush properly. Brushing at all is a win. Here are the best ways to assure your child keeps their smile bright and healthy.
- Increase Water Intake
Increasing your child’s water intake will encourage more saliva production to clean their teeth. When they crave a snack, give them a glass of water first, and wait fifteen minutes to see if they were confusing a food craving for thirst. Replace soda with water.
- Decrease Sugar
You find sugar naturally in fruits but also as additives in other packaged products. When was the last time you checked the label on the products in your pantry?
A diet too high in sugar contributes to bad dental health and can result in cavities. Bacteria in the mouth digest sugar and transform it into acid which erodes tooth enamel. The interaction of sugar and bacteria causes adverse effects in your child’s dental health, leading to bad breath and sensitivity. If these habits persist, dental health worsens and crowns, extractions and other previously unnecessary procedures may need conducting.
Moderation with sugar is key. The body needs sugar to function but watch the additives.
- Maintain Regular Dentist Visits
Dentists recommended twice a year visits to remove plaque build-up and tartar. Dentists look for cavities and offer tips on tooth care as your child grows. Your child will develop trust with the dentist and a good dental care routine the more you create a routine.
- Establish a Routine With a Timer
Speaking of routines, it gives your child structure and builds the framework for a healthy balance of schedules and responsibility down the road. Routines also matter when it comes to establishing good dental care practices.
The average person only brushes 45 to 70 seconds, but everyone should brush four times this amount — two minutes during the morning and the evening. Annually, people should brush 1,460 minutes a year instead of 274 minutes.
Make brushing a thorough race. Set a timer for two minutes and go, brushing the front, back and the tops of teeth, including the roof of the mouth and tongue.
- Try Floss Picks Instead
Even adults hate flossing. The string feels awkward when you’re navigating around the nooks and crannies of your teeth. Try floss picks instead of flossing with string. Both approaches are effective. The floss is shorter and easier to control. The pick helps pry stubborn pieces of food out from between teeth. It makes the process easier to manage and less gross.
- Know that Brushing Style Varies by Age
Older kids rely on toothbrushes made for children while younger children wait for their teeth to come in. When your little one is cutting teeth, run a clean washcloth along the gum line to keep the area clean and help train them for brushing their teeth
- Only Chewing, Not Opening
Use teeth for chewing, not opening. Your child tends to use their teeth to open packages and bite their nails. This places extraneous force on their teeth. Keep telling your child to use their teeth for chewing only.
- Ween Thumb and Finger Sucking
Kids often use thumb and finger sucking as a self-soothing technique. Over time, this act of comfort changes the roof of the mouth and its shape. It can also alter teeth alignment. Pacifiers are also guilty of altering the mouth, but it’s an easier habit to break.
Your child will have a healthier smile as they age if you can ween your them off thumb and finger sucking. Your child’s hygienist can also offer tips to stop this habit in its tracks.
- Try an Electric Toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes can remove buildup better than your child’s manual toothbrush if they’re less than enthusiastic about brushing, but manual toothbrushes also work well if your child puts in the effort. The shape of the powered toothbrush bristle combined with the spinning head gets to places more effectively than your child might when brushing. Many electric toothbrushes contain timers on the device to make sure your child brushes their teeth for the full two minutes.
Electric toothbrushes also come in different colors and characters. The modern and cool electric toothbrush may engage your child more than a manual toothbrush.
- Wear Retainers According to Instructions
When your child removes their braces, dentists require them to wear a retainer. Your child probably avoids the retainer as much as possible, but it’s important to wear them as the dentist instructed. Your child has to wear it often to prevent teeth from misalignment and help undo the hard work of the braces.
Keep Your Child Healthy
Like going to bed and eating all the green vegetables on their plate — your child balks at the idea of doing what’s healthy for them.
They find ways to beat the system, but you can still assure your child’s healthy smile by following these tips. For example, keep your child to the two-minute brushing limit twice daily, and mix up the gadgets — try an electric toothbrush or floss picks where regular tools fail to engage your child. Years later, your child will have a healthy smile that reflects their inner joy.
Jennifer Landis is a mother, wife, and the editor of MindfulnessMama.com. She enjoys yoga, green tea, and dark chocolate. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.