Dental health is important at any age, but even more critical is starting out early in life with a strong foundation of healthy oral health habits. The experts at Dell Children’s Medical Center offer five tips for parents to keep their kids’ teeth in tip-top shape.
1. Start Dental Care Early
While your child may only have one or two teeth by their first birthday, the importance of starting proper dental care early in life can’t be overstated. Taking your child in by age one means your dentist can make sure that first tooth is off to a great start, plus helps your kids feel comfortable about sitting in the dentist’s chair.
2. Make Brushing Time Fun
Kids love just about anything that’s disguised as fun, and that includes brushing their teeth. Try singing a fun brushing song like this one to keep kids from feeling like tooth-brushing is a boring chore.
3. Put the Bottle Away at Bedtime
Falling asleep with a bottle or sippy cup may seem like a harmless way to ensure a drama-free bedtime, but this habit can do more harm than good. The sugar in milk or juice can rapidly break down tooth enamel, especially when liquids pool and sit in a sleeping child’s mouth. Switch to plain tap water for an easier transition before taking the nighttime drink away for good.
4. Keep an Eye on Sugar Intake
Remember, it’s not just the act of brushing and flossing that keeps teeth healthy. You also need to limit the total amount of sugar that those teeth are exposed to every day. Think not only about obvious culprits like candy or ice cream, but also how much sugar can hide in seemingly harmless things like fruit juices. All those sweet treats can add up to serious tooth decay.
5. Set a Great Example
Finally, kids learn best by watching and imitating others. Provide a great example for your kids of how to take care of your teeth by being diligent about brushing, flossing and scheduling regular checkups yourself.
This February is Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to renew your commitment to encouraging good dental health habits in your kids that will last a lifetime. It’s also important to work closely with an oral health expert who understands how other medical conditions, like using an inhaler for treating asthma symptoms, can have an impact on the health of your child’s teeth. This topic and more will be addressed at the Annual Central Texas Dental Symposium, hosted right here at Dell Children’s Medical Center on February 12.