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Oral Health Buzz

How to Improve Oral Health

Diana Tosuni-O'Neill RDH, BS

Many parents have experienced a child's resistance or even outright refusals when it comes to brushing teeth. Yet parents play a major role in helping children develop proper oral health habits early on. What methods can parents utilize when teaching their little ones how to improve oral health? Focusing on ways to motivate children will help parents to overcome this hurdle. Parents can encourage proper oral care for life by introducing correct oral hygiene to their children without delay.

Steps Parents Can Take to Improve a Child's Oral Health

  • Be a good role model by taking care of your own teeth. Children learn best by imitating.
  • Help children pick a toothpaste and allow them to select their favorite flavor.
  • Allow children to choose their own toothbrush featuring different colors or cartoon characters.
  • Schedule brushing times and develop a consistent time of day for oral care routine.
  • Monitor children's manual dexterity and offer assistance with brushing and flossing when necessary.
  • Have children brush for 2 minutes. Use a timer or hourglass which can be helpful and fun.
  • Play a song like Happy Birthday or some other child-friendly tune while children brush to help keep track of time.
  • Praise children for their oral care efforts.
  • Reward children with a sticker or gold star on a chart.

Proper Nutrition and Oral Health

Proper nutrition is also necessary to maintain good oral health. Plan to have nutritious foods available and offer them on a daily basis. Making healthy food choices is crucial not only for oral health, but for overall health too.

Foods to Include:

  • Raw vegetables (carrots, peppers, celery, etc.)
  • Fruits (apples, pears, berries, etc.)
  • Water or milk
  • Cheeses
  • Yogurt

Foods to Avoid:

  • Cookies and cakes
  • Ice cream
  • Sugary drinks
  • Candy
  • Sticky foods (raisins, gummy treats, taffy, caramel, etc.)

Brushing Can Be Fun

For the best cooperation, make brushing fun! Children can make a fuss and it can be frustrating, but it is possible to overcome these obstacles. Parents can use this as an opportunity to utilize enticing tools to coax the child into proper daily habits of oral care. Children will look forward to brushing when it's pleasant and entertaining. Choosing a game that can be played during brushing can be a great way to achieve success by introducing the element of enjoyment into daily brushing sessions.

For the best results, use only a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Demonstrate proper brushing technique by using gentle back-and-forth strokes on your own teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and allow children to mimic your actions on their own teeth.

Start Oral Care Early

Tooth decay, though highly preventable, is one of the most common chronic diseases among children. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it's best to start oral care early, with a first visit before the age of one. To help prevent tooth decay in young children, parents should promote proper oral health as part of overall wellness.

Establish Good Oral Health Habits

It is essential for parents to establish proper brushing and flossing techniques to ensure that children develop the correct oral health habits for life. Brushing and flossing are the most effective methods to remove plaque and prevent tooth decay. Flossing should begin when the teeth begin to touch each other. Brushing should occur twice daily using a fluoridated toothpaste, such as a Colgate toothpaste for kids. Parents should continuously strive to learn more about how to improve oral health habits among children, for these habits will have a dramatically beneficial lifelong impact.

Learn more about oral health for children in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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