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As parents, there are a lot of lessons we try to teach our children while they’re still young; don’t touch hot burners, always say “please” and “thank you”, brush your teeth twice a day…
That last little piece of wisdom is particularly loathsome to children around the world, and to be fair, we can kind of understand why. Good oral health is essential to overall health at every age, but to kids, brushing and flossing is just another obnoxious chore.
To make matters worse, some parents adopt the attitude that all baby teeth fall out eventually, so it isn’t worth the fight. Not only does oral hygiene (or lack thereof) impact our health from the moment we’re born, but neglecting to establish these habits in childhood sets our kids up for detrimental lifelong habits. And after those baby teeth are gone, there are no second chances!
Luckily, solidifying those best practices for kids’ oral health early doesn’t need to be difficult – it can even be fun! Here are some quick pointers on how to make the most of this teaching moment.
Start With a Healthy Diet
We'll say it once, say it again, and say it a hundred times or more – we are what we eat!
Of course, a healthier diet and lifestyle don’t just have advantages for our everyday health in the family – but also for our kids’ oral health, too.
The sugars from processed foods and drinks stick in the curves and crevices of the teeth. If the teeth aren’t cleaned properly, that buildup turns into plaque and, eventually, cavities. That’s why generally avoiding sugary and processed foods is a better plan in general (it’s not worth the risk!), and why consuming fruits, vegetables, and clean sources of protein and energy is so worthwhile!
As for candy and chocolate…you don’t need us to tell you how hard sweets can be on teeth – especially little ones! Caramel and other sticky foods clog and stick in the mouth, staying on teeth for hours and slowly eroding the enamel.
Make Brushing Teeth Fun
We can lecture them on the benefits of good oral health from sunup until sundown – but if they aren’t interested in what we’re telling them, then they don’t really have an incentive to think of the long-term consequences of neglecting their oral health.
Again, this can seem like a never-ending battle of nagging kids into doing what’s right, but it doesn’t have to be. Kids’ oral health is as fun as you make it – so let’s make it something our little ones look forward to.
For families with multiple kids, you can set up a game where the shiniest teeth and best breath get rewards and praise – line up for inspection please, so mom can see who’s been the most attentive in cleaning their teeth!
You can also place a fun timer in the bathroom, give them a reward such as a later bedtime for the upcoming weekend if they brush their teeth well during the week, or some type of reward at the end of the month.
Remember, thoroughness is the key to good kids’ oral health, so try to steer away from ideas like ‘who can brush their teeth the fastest’ – the last thing we want is kids cutting corners.
Yet, just like tidying away the toys, setting the table, or helping with chores around the house, it’s all about incorporating a sense of fun and play.
Use the Right Toothpaste – and Avoid Fluoride
A lot of progress has been made in recognizing the damaging effects of the chemicals included in so many of the products we use every day. It doesn’t always make for easy reading.
However, we as parents have the fantastic opportunity to correct the mistakes that have often been made in the consumer products that have been on the market before our kids were born. This is definitely the case when it comes to fluoride toothpaste for – many parents do not want to expose their families to the risks we now know fluoride presents, and rightly so.
Investing in the right kind of toothpaste goes a long way to not only promote your kids’ oral health, but also to ensure that they are not exposed to toxic chemicals early on in life.
These days, toothpastes that use hydroxyapatite (instead of fluoride) as their active ingredient can do a lot to promote kids’ oral health without taking on a bad flavor or unpleasant texture in the mouth. It’s something we have poured our heart and soul into perfecting when it comes to our Wellnesse children’s oral care line.
Couple your clean, supercharged toothpaste with gentle, sustainable tools like biodegradable toothbrushes, and you’re able to teach your children not only about the importance of good kids’ oral health, but also how to help to preserve the planet we will be leaving for them.
Encourage Flossing Early
Flossing our teeth is a vital part of oral care, because it reaches all the nooks and crannies in our mouths that we can’t reach through brushing alone. Yet, the reality is that many adults do not floss their teeth on a daily basis – so it stands to reason that many children don’t do it either.
Flossing can help to remove any food particles lodged between kids’ teeth, and it can be fun and engaging. Skirting on the scientific side of things, flossing in front of a mirror is also a good way of developing your kids’ hand eye coordination, as they have to reverse what they can see to get the best results from the flossing motion. That’s a good lesson to learn early on in life!
If you want to start implementing this with your kids right away, but they’re still too young to floss on their own, there’s no need to worry. Instead of regular thread floss, you can try floss picks to make your job a little easier while still achieving the same great results. Plus, encouraging good oral health habits while your little ones are still young makes them comfortable with everyday hygiene practices and prepares them to adopt them independently once they’re a little older!
Encourage Healthy Habits That Last a Lifetime
When was the last time you stopped and thought just how bizarre (and probably obnoxious) you must have found it as a child to be told how to brush your teeth? The answer is probably that you don’t give it much thought at all. And that’s good! It means that your parents instilled healthy habits in you early on, which is our (and your) goal now!
As important as it is to make these routines fun, when it comes to kids’ oral health, habit is definitely a key concept. Children need to understand that this is a daily activity that’s important because it’s good for them. Make sure they understand your reasons for teaching them so they know they aren’t just being bossed around.
Once kids understand that good oral hygiene is the key to not only good breath and clean teeth, but also better health overall – thanks to how much a healthy mouth positively affects the immune system – you can encourage this habit forming with solid routines and feel-good energy.
Of course, the right products always help, but that’s where we come in. Helping your family to be their healthiest and happiest selves is something we believe passionately in – both for kids’ oral health and far beyond.