Raising children means you have to look out for their welfare. However, you cannot always be there for them. Your kids need to develop habits that keep them safe, and that includes taking care of their teeth and gums.
Call our Leawood, KS dental office today at 913-945-1612 to schedule dental cleanings and dental exams for your whole family. Our dentists know how to work with kids to help them feel safe and comfortable here. S&G Family Dentistry sees children as young as 18 months old for wellness checks and more.
How To Develop Good Dental Habits
There is no magic or guaranteed way of developing good dental habits. A lot of it takes repetition, and it’s about increasing the chances of good things happening. That said, here are some specific things you can do as a parent to help your kids get those good habits that can last their whole lives.
Treat fruit juice and diet soda as treats, not regular drinks.
Many parents feel fruit juice is healthy and encourage their kids to drink it often. While it does have vitamins, it also has a lot of sugar. Even the all-natural, unsweetened versions have sugar because that’s what fruit have naturally. Filling a sippy cup full of orange juice often enough gives kids the habit of drinking sweet, sugary drinks.
Diet sodas are popular in older kids, and it’s true that they do not have sugar. However, both fruit juice and diet soda are high in acids. These erode enamel similar to tooth decay. It’s not like you have to ban both forever. Just use them as rare treats so your kids don’t develop the habit of drinking them.
From time to time, let your kids see you brushing and flossing.
Kids are always trying to do what the grown-ups do. That means they watch and try to do what you do. But the flip side is also true — kids tend to not do things when they don’t see adults doing them.
You can tell them how important it is to brush and floss each day, but if they never see you do it, then they assume it’s just something kids have to do. Then they develop the habit of not brushing or flossing. You can get the opposite by letting your kids watch you brush and floss occasionally. Don’t make a big production out of it, but let them see you do what you want them to do.
Schedule dental cleanings and dental exams together.
Visiting the dentist every six months is not just a good habit to have, it’s a necessity. That’s because only a dentist like ours at S&G Family Dentistry have the training, tools, and technology to thoroughly clean your teeth and spot any problems.
As with brushing and flossing, kids will assume dental visits are unimportant if they never see you doing it. Help them develop the good habit of regular dental appointments by scheduling them together. Besides, this can save you a trip to our Leawood, KS dental office.
Serve water as your drink of choice at home.
Drinking water benefits your teeth in several ways. First, it’s sugar-free and has no acid. Second, it washes acids and food particles off your teeth and gums. This helps fight cavities and gum disease. Staying hydrated also helps you produce saliva that keeps your teeth and gums clean.
By serving water with meals and snacks by default, you help your kids develop a habit of drinking water. Do this enough times, and plain water is what your kids will assume you drink most of the time.
Allow your children to pick out their own toothbrushes.
Because they’re so young, kids can’t have too much control over their lives. They’re always being told what to do, when to do it, and so on. That means giving them a little bit of control can have a huge impact.
Take your kids to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush. Guide them to ones that are smaller and have soft bristles so they can be used effectively to fight cavities and gum disease. But the more excited they are about their very own toothbrush, the more likely they’ll develop the habit of brushing regularly.
If you use tobacco in any form, do what you need to stop.
Whether it’s smoked or chewed, tobacco has a horrible effect on your dental health. It stains your teeth, limits saliva production, makes it harder to fight gum disease, and leads to oral cancer. But here’s the thing — your kids are very perceptive. Even if you try to hide it, they probably know.
Again, kids want to do what grown-ups do. If you use tobacco, they are much more likely to use it too when they get older. By quitting, you’re showing your kids that tobacco is something to avoid. This can help their dental (and overall) health in the long-run.