Did you know that dental care is one of the children’s most unmet health needs? Cavities and tooth decay are one of the most common health issues among children — five times more common than asthma!
Nowadays, we hear so much about our bodies: how to have the perfect bikini body, how to lose weight rapidly, and how to look good for the upcoming spring and summer months (yes, articles are coming out already about this!). While taking care of your body is very important, losing weight (especially for children) is not, and unfortunately it is something that we hear more about compared to even basic oral health. Insane, right – especially since dental health really is put on a back burner.
As parents, we need to teach children how to prioritize their health when it comes to what they eat, how active they are, and also how well they take care of themselves. So, how do we teach our children to prioritize their dental health?
My best tip is to show them. Kids ultimately learn by example and we see this starting at a very young age. Babies learn by imitating the people they are around. So, show them how important family dental health really is. Second of all, after showing them how you take care of your teeth, teach them how to properly care for theirs. You can start this even just a few days after birth by wiping their gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. This will help them get used to it because by the time they are 7-12 months old, they should at least have one tooth, if not more, and once they have a tooth, decay can occur. Imagine the babies who are born with a tooth! I cannot imagine.
We starting teaching Aubrey about teeth brushing as early as 1 year old. It helped to get a toothbrush and toothpaste that had one of her favorite characters on it like Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, or whoever else your child loves. It helped Aubrey enjoy the act of brushing her teeth. She looked forward to see Peppa Pig on her things. We also try to teach Aubrey how long she needed to brush her teeth for by playing a song she enjoyed. At the time she loved Jingle Bells and the song is about 2 minutes long so we would play Jingle Bells every time. The most important thing was by modelling what to do. I would brush my teeth the same time as Aubrey and show her what to do. I would have her follow along and I would describe what I was doing so she understood. I tried to make fun sounds as well like “aahhh” or “eeehhh”. At the end I would brush her teeth for her just to make sure she did it right. All of this has helped make teeth brushing not so scary and at this point has become a daily ritual every morning and night. Aubrey still enjoys when she gets new toothpaste or a new toothbrush.
Even though she is only 3 and still a long time away from needing to worry about the tooth fairy, Aubrey is talking about the tooth fairy and at this point is making sure her teeth stay nice and clean with no cavities so that the tooth fairy will be happy with her teeth.
For children younger than 3 years, start brushing their teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin cleaning between their teeth daily.
Another aspect of family dental health is actually going to your in-person dental appointments. This is important so that you can prevent cavities and decay from occuring in the first place (hopefully). But, if they do occur, going to your bi-yearly dental appointment will be essential to fix the issue(s).
With kids, it is important to find a dentist that you trust. For a lot of people in the Atlanta-area, this is Dr. Gary Simms. Dr. Simms and his entire staff atMetro Decatur Dental Group PC are dedicated to providing the most up-to-date general, orthodontic and family dentistry. Since 2006, Metro Decatur Dental Group PC has been providing full-service dental services like teeth cleaning, teeth whitening, braces & invisalign, dental implants & dentures, and more, to their clients in the DeKalb County area. No matter what kind of dental service you need, Metro Decatur Dental Group PC has the experience to help you solve your issues, or hopefully prevent them in the first place – especially if you teach your children to start seeing a dentist bi-yearly, starting at a young age!
Teaching your children to take care of their health by scheduling routine appointments with their dentists and doctors is important so that they can focus on their health now rather than later. With dental care being such an unmet health need in a lot of children across the US, it is time to take charge and make sure that dental care is a priority in your family.