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Keeping your family healthy and happy should always be a top priority. Most people know the importance of regular exercise for physical health and reducing stress for mental health. However, maintaining oral health can sometimes be overlooked.
In addition to encouraging your family to stay physical, eat right, and get enough sleep, you should also be fostering the best oral health practices. Not only will they keep everyone’s mouth and teeth healthy now, but you’ll instill better oral health habits into your children that they’ll carry with them into adulthood.
Poor oral health practices are often associated with other conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. If having a healthy family is your priority, don’t ignore everyone’s oral care.
Let’s take a look at five ways you can maintain your family’s oral health, and make sure your children are taking proper care of their teeth from a young age.
Taking care of your oral health begins at home, and we’ll cover how you can help your kids boost their oral hygiene habits in the following points. However, one of the best things you can do for everyone in your family is regularly making dental appointments.
Everyone should visit the dentist at least once a year, though your dental provider might encourage your kids to come more often so their oral health can be closely monitored as their permanent teeth start to come in.
It’s not uncommon for young children to have a “fear” of the dentist, but it’s typically a fear of the unknown. You can help them prepare for their first visit by:
- Taking them by age one
- Talking about what to expect
- Emphasizing how important it is to have healthy teeth
- Using positive reinforcement
- Allowing them to bring a stuffed animal or blanket to the appointment
The more calm and comfortable your child is at the dentist, the easier it will be to get them to attend appointments regularly.
Every parent knows the importance of regular teeth-brushing. However, it’s not always easy to get young children to do it the right way – or for long enough.
You can show them how to brush their teeth by setting an example. Brush your teeth along with them every morning and night. Explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and encourage them to brush the correct way. Your kids look up to you more than you might realize, and by being their “model” for tooth-brushing, they’ll be more likely to do it the right way.
Some kids might be resistant when it comes to brushing their teeth. If your child fights you on it every morning and night, the first thing to do is understand what might be causing those obstacles.
For example, some studies have shown that neurodivergent children may have more oral health problems because they struggle to maintain oral hygiene. Understanding your child’s needs is essential to improving their oral health, and educating your children on the importance of oral hygiene in a way they understand can help them to overcome tooth brushing obstacles.
You can help them overcome these issues by making brushing time more fun. Listen to a special song with them while they brush, or turn it into a game.
If you’re really having a hard time getting your kids to brush, consider incentivizing it until they’re more comfortable with the process. Start a sticker chart and add one every time they brush, so they can work their way up toward earning a reward.
We touched briefly on telling your kids the importance of having healthy teeth. However, if you have children, you know there are times when it seems like the questions never stop.
Consider having a conversation with your children about the importance of oral health, and why they should take care of their teeth. You can talk about things like cavities and having a healthy smile, but be sure you’re using terms and analogies they can understand. For example, if your child is too young to understand what a cavity is, you might tell them something like “sugar bugs” can try to hurt their teeth when they don’t brush.
Routine visits to the dentist are important, but establishing strong oral health routines at home is just as crucial. Kids thrive on routine and it’s important to every aspect of their lives, including their oral care. Step-by-step routines help children:
- Feel more in control of their environment
- Feel safe and comfortable
- Know how to do a task
- Know what’s coming next
By staying consistent with your child’s oral health routine, it won’t take long for things like brushing teeth in the morning and night, flossing, and eating foods that are good for their teeth to become habitual.
You already put so much time and effort into your family’s health and well-being. Make sure you’re covering every base by paying attention to their oral health, as well, and let these tips make it easier for everyone in your household to start smiling brighter.
Indiana Lee is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest with a passion for covering workplace issues, social justice, environmental protection, and more. In her off time you can find her in the mountains with her two dogs. You can follow her work on Contently, or reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @indianalee3