One of the greatest rewards of being a parent is feeding a child’s curiosity. It seems like as soon as kids start talking, they have questions: Why is the sky blue? Can I have a snack? Why do I have to go to bed? Can we get a dog?
Although these repetitive inquiries might get exhausting, they are a great opportunity for teaching moments. As your child prepares for his or her first trip to the dentist for a cleaning or exam, you might start to hear questions about what to expect and what it means. Keep in mind that the sooner you start talking to your kids about oral hygiene, the more invested they will become in protecting the health of their mouths–and that can make a big difference in the long run, especially as baby teeth fall out and cavities in permanent teeth become a possibility. If your little one is starting to ask questions about the dentist and his or her teeth, take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to be a trained medical professional to answer them (although we’d be happy to offer some support during your next appointment in one of our Indiana offices). Incorporating the following dental health basics (or ABCs) into regular conversation can help set the foundation for a tooth care-aware child.
A: Avoiding Certain Foods
You’d be hard-pressed to find a child who doesn’t like candy, soda, or other sugary treats. While delicious, these products can have serious effects on dental health. Over time, overconsumption can lead to plaque buildup and cavities in teeth. You don’t have to prevent your child from consuming them altogether, but having a conversation about reducing how much sugar they eat or drink can help them make smart decisions about their dietary choices. You might even find that they start to avoid them in situations where you’re not present, like sleepovers and at school.
B: Brushing And Flossing
Kids should be brushing their teeth at least twice a day, and, if possible, after lunch and snacks. You can help them get used to the routine by starting it early; as soon as your baby’s teeth start to show, you can clean them with a toothbrush and water. You can introduce small amounts of toothpaste to this routine as your little one approaches the age of three (but talk to your pediatrician first). Have a reluctant brusher? Make things fun by using flavored pastes and colorful brushes, or having your little one keep track of brushing time with a favorite song.
C: Cleanings And Checkups
Visiting the dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning is essential to overall dental health. Dentist can provide thorough treatments that identify and tackle oral health problems before they get too extreme and need more intense care. Introducing your child early to the idea of regular dental appointments can help him or her feel more comfortable with the process. This might even make them more likely to report when they feel dental pain, saving them from unnecessary aches.
Talking to your child about to care doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Stick to the ABCs, and don’t hesitate to consult us with any concerns you have.