Make a lasting impact on your child’s health with early dental education

Benjamin Franklin said it best: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

He was referring to overall health when he made that comment, but it applies to dental health as well. Making sure your child’s teeth are cared for as a youngster can significantly affect their lives as adults, both with their financial health and overall health.

It’s a serious situation: More than 18.9 percent of children between the ages of five and 19 have untreated cavities, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Left untreated, these cavities can lead to pain and tooth loss in the short term and serious gum diseases and infections in the long-term — some that can even put them in the hospital or threaten their lives.

More than 18.9 percent of children between the ages of five and 19 have untreated cavities, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Children Learn Dental Habits from Their Parents

You might not realize it, but your little ones are constantly looking to you to figure out what’s acceptable — and what’s not. Studies show that children learn most of their dental habits within the first two years of their lives. So if you don’t care for your teeth, chances are they won’t learn to care for theirs either.

Food choices also play a big role in dental health in children, so don’t let them develop bad habits. Soda, candy and fast food might make them happy now, but they can lead to decay over time, especially because baby teeth have less dense tooth enamel. Even allowing children to drink on milk- or juice-filled bottles for an extended period can hurt.

Make Toothbrushing a Priority in the Beginning

Children should be exposed to a toothbrushing ritual even before they’re old enough to know what’s happening. The American Dental Association recommends wiping your children’s gums with a wet cloth or gauze within a few weeks after birth, continuing until their first teeth break through the gums.

You should continue to care for your child’s teeth until they hit the age where they can do it on their own — around three years old. Brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Add in flossing once they have two teeth that touch.

You’re not off the hook once they can brush on their own. Let them put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their brush, but supervise so they brush long enough. Also, watch to make sure they don’t swallow a large amount of toothpaste. This can cause a condition called dental fluorosis, or hyper enamel growth.

Heap Praise on Your Children

Your children’s behavior is based on how you view and treat them, so be sure to praise them for brushing correctly.

A 2001 study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis found that positive reinforcement changes brain chemistry, leading to better long-term behavior. Use that to your advantage when it comes to dental education because they’re more likely to keep up with something if they think they’re doing a good job.

Join Forces With Your Dentist

Part of early dental health education revolves around the dentist. Children should be introduced to the dentist as early as possible — even before they turn one — so they develop a familiarity with what happens there. Consider rewarding them with a treat for successful visits so they associate the dentist with positive feelings, not negative ones.

Your dentist has the tools to catch any early problems in your children’s teeth so little problems don’t turn into big ones — and turn them away from the dentist.

Consistency is Key

Caring for your children’s teeth is a priority, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Take the time to establish good habits in the beginning and you’ll find that it soon becomes routine, like bathing and sleeping. They won’t even question it; it’s just something they do.

And you’ll rest easy knowing they won’t face excessive dental problems as they grow into adulthood.

Contact us at TruFamily Dental to make an appointment today.

Posted In: Pediatric Dental Care