Five family teeth care tips
It’s all good and well to lead by example when it comes to your family’s oral health. But getting your kids to follow suit can be like pulling teeth.
There are plenty of studies that suggest oral health may be important for our overall health. But how do you get your kids to think long term so that they take care of their teeth today?
Here are my tips for kick-starting good oral health habits today that favour your family’s overall health in the long run.
1. Regular check-ups
It’s important for kids to have regular dental appointments because it’s during these formative years when problems with teeth are more likely to crop up.
Exactly how often to visit depends on your child’s ‘risk profile’ − meaning, how likely they are to have problems with their teeth. For example, if your child is more vulnerable to problems I’d suggest seeing their dentist at least every six months. Others might visit once a year.
To be sure, it’s best to start with regular, 6-monthly check-ups to help determine their risk profile. And if it’s your child’s first dental visit, here are some tips for making it a positive experience
2. Brush, brush, brush
It’s easy to feel like a broken record when lecturing your kids on brushing their teeth. As exhausting as it is, do what you can to encourage your kids to brush their teeth twice a day from a young age so that it becomes a habit.
If you have a baby or toddler, check out our tips for getting started. If you’re further down the track and at a loss because your child refuses to open their mouth, see our tips for making teeth brushing fun.
Once you’ve got a regular routine in place, ask your dentist to give your child a demo on using the correct tooth brushing technique. Or try these simple steps with them – especially if you have kids under eight who tend not to have the dexterity to effectively brush their own teeth:
- Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush (if under 18 months, just use water)
- Aim their brush at a 45˚ angle to the gum line
- Move their brush gently in a circular motion to clean all surfaces of their teeth, including the backs and where their teeth meet their gums
- Avoid side-to-side scrubbing which can damage teeth and gums
- Encourage them to brush for a total of two minutes as part of their routine
3. Orthodontics and orthopaedics
Orthodontics and orthopaedics are often misunderstood as a cosmetic option for people who want a Hollywood smile. But this isn’t necessarily true.
Orthodontics and orthopaedics (the latter used on younger patients) means moving or straightening your teeth into a more correct jaw alignment and improving the size and shape of the jaws. That’s because the position of your teeth can affect basic functions we take for granted every day. By treating any misalignment, your child could avoid issues such as difficulty breathing, chewing, talking or maintaining clean teeth.
Even if your child’s teeth aren’t crooked, that regular dental appointment is important from an early age to spot less obvious orthodontic problems.
Let’s face it. Mouthguards aren’t ‘cool’ and encouraging kids to use one can be as hard as getting a toddler to brush their teeth. But it’s one of the best preventative measures to take when it comes to their oral health if your child plays sport – whether a serious footy match or just a trip to the local skate park.
A custom-fitted mouthguard made by your dentist (the only kind to consider) absorbs the impact of a blow to the face, which may otherwise injure the mouth or jaw. So, wearing a mouthguard won’t just safeguard their smile but your finances!
5. A reason to smile
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy” Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Monk.
Scientists and spiritual teachers agree that the simple act of smiling works wonders for your mental wellbeing. The act of smiling can release chemicals in the brain that help lower your stress levels and boost your mood.
The bottom line is... a smile is something you should be happy to wear as much as possible. But you need to be happy not just with your smile but the health of your teeth, gums and mouth. And if you’re not, modern dentistry can usually help −it may be simpler than you expect!
Back to top ⌃