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 October 3rd, 2012

How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health

Good habits start with parents and as their children grow, they share behaviors and habits with peers.  Health professionals also play a critical role in developing healthly behaviors and routines. 

Establishing a brushing routine is one of the easier habits to instill.  Children will need help brushing until their dexterity is more developed and can take over brushing and flossing on their own. 

Tip 1: Teach your children how to check the cleanliness of their own teeth.  Teach your children to check how well they are brushing by running their tongue over their teeth.  If the teeth feel nice and smooth, it’s a job well done.

Tip 2: Avoid transferring you own oral bacteria to your children.  Children are not born with decay-producing bacteria.  Sharing a baby’s spoon, kissing a baby on the lips or licking a pacifier clean is never a good idea.

Tip 3: Set an example of healthy eating habits for your children. A healthy diet includes all the essential nutrients in appropriate amounts to promote health and growth – and prevent disease. Using a guide www.choosemyplate.gov is helpful in establishing healthy eating habits during life’s different stages.

Tip 4: If you allow your children to have sugary treats, make sure they are consumed only at mealtimes, not between. Snacking between meals, especially on sugary foods and drinks, encourages the growth of acidogenic bacteria which causes tooth decay.  Saliva can help neutralize acid, it takes at least 20-30 minutes, but not if sugar is constantly present in the mouth.

Tip 5: Encourage your children to stop sucking thumbs and pacifiers by age 7. Sucking for comfort is a completely normal habit for babies and young children.  Over a long period of time, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come into position properly. Please ask your Doctor for tips on how to quit.

Tip 6: Get a professionally made custom-fitted mouth guard for your child.  The most frequent injury during contact sports, for young children and teens, is damage to the upper front teeth. Mouth guards protect the teeth, jawbones, and soft tissues of the lip, cheeks, gums and tongue.  A custom fit offers greater protection than an off-the-shelf model. 

Tip 7: Warn your teens about the dangers of oral piercings. Tongue and lip bolts create risk for teeth and the tissues that surround them resulting in chipping, sensitivity and pain.  Periodontal problems include gum recession, inflammation, infection and bone loss.  Fortunately, a hole punctured usually closes up on its own when the ornament is removed.