Preventing Tooth Decay in Children – A Parent’s Guide

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Prevent Tooth Decay in Children - Kids Watching a Dentist

As a parent, you may wonder what you can do to prevent tooth decay in children. The good news is that there is a lot that parents can do to help kids look after their teeth, from as early as one year or even younger. Often, good dental hygiene comes down to habit. When children grow up with a routine that includes flossing, brushing and other habits, it will be far easier for them to continue looking after their teeth all the through their teenage years and adulthood. In this guide, we share some simple tips that can make a huge difference. Keep reading to find out how you can prevent the risk of tooth decay in children with just a few simple habits.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children

Some of the ways that you can reduce the risk of tooth decay in children of all ages include the following steps:

Start dentist visits early.

The earlier you start visits to the dentist, the easier it will be for kids to adjust. You can begin by taking your child with you on your visits when they are still very small, to show them that there is nothing to fear. Once your child is one year old, they can start going to a dentist for basic check-ups. If you wait until your child is older, there is more chance of the first dentist visit becoming stressful. The more your child fears the dentist, the harder it will become to plan trips to the dentist without tears, tantrums and acting out. Starting early removes a great deal of stress, allowing the dentist to seem like a routine process that is not remotely scary.

Create a tooth brushing routine.

Children who have a solid routine will be far more likely to continue the routine for the rest of their life. Make brushing and flossing a fun routine that kids look forward to each morning and evening. Look for age-appropriate toothbrushes that are fun, colourful or shaped like your child’s favourite animal. Brush your teeth and floss together as a family. Find tooth brushing songs or rhymes that further add to the fun. This will turn a routine into something that kids enjoy.

Help younger kids brush and floss.

Younger kids of eight and below will likely need a bit of help brushing and flossing. Some kids may develop the skills required to hold a toothbrush and brush earlier, while others may take a bit longer. Until your child is able to brush and floss alone, you will help. Once again, you can make this fun by choosing bright toothbrushes and creating fun around your routine. For older kids who are able to brush and floss on their own, it is important to supervise until they are around 11 or 12. This will ensure that they don’t rush through the process or skip it altogether when you are not looking.

Encourage healthy eating habits.

Over and beyond creating healthy dental hygiene routines, it is important to encourage healthy eating habits as well. Rather than eating sugary and acid-forming foods on a regular basis, children should learn that these foods are meant to be a treat that is enjoyed once in a while. Soft drinks such as Coca-Cola are very bad for teeth, while sugary cereals, sweets and other foods that are high in added sugar can also increase the risk of cavities. As a parent, it is your job to monitor your child’s diet so that they have fresh foods that are good for teeth and gums.

Model good dental habits.

Finally, you can also teach children by modelling good behaviour yourselves. If mom and dad both follow a healthy dental routine, brushing, flossing, visiting the dentist and avoiding sugary foods, kids will want to follow suit. If mom and dad and older siblings are not following healthy routines, it will become far harder to try and teach kids to look after their teeth.

Follow these simple steps and you should find that there is far less chance of cavities and other issues. If you’re looking for a child-friendly dentist in Durban who has ample experience in preventing tooth decay in children, you may contact Gateway Dental today.

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