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Healthy Teeth For Kids: Encourage Good Habits Early

Wendy J. Woudstra

Since your children's health is always high on your list of priorities, maintaining a healthy smile should be, too. Encouraging habits that will lead to healthy teeth for kids will aid them greatly in the future.

Poor dental hygiene, on the other hand, can have many negative consequences, even at a young age. Children with pain from cavities may not chew properly before swallowing, which can reduce the nutrients their bodies absorb from food and thus increase weight gain. This is in addition to the social anxiety and self-esteem issues that can stem from discolored or cavity-filled teeth.

Thankfully, it is easy to prevent these problems by encouraging good dental hygiene while your kids are still young.

Good Habits Start Early

Help your children brush and floss in their early years. During the period in which their motor skills are still developing, you should brush their teeth for them. Explain to your children why it's important to keep their teeth healthy. When they grow alittle older, allow them to start or finish the brushing routine - this will help them get used to doing it on their own.

Once your children are able to tie their shoes, they should have adequate coordination to brush their teeth as well. However, because of problems that can arise from unbalanced development of permanent and primary teeth, they may still need help with flossing.

Be sure to use oral care products designed for kids. Brushes with smaller heads will clean better in smaller mouths, and toothpastes with fluoride and kid-friendly flavors will encourage your children to brush longer and better.

Toothbrushes should be changed every three months. You can make this a fun event by setting a date on the calendar to go shopping with your children and by letting them choose their new toothbrushes. There are many styles and designs available to choose from, including some with popular characters from their favorite TV shows.

Don't Instill Fear

As children get older, they may offer some resistance to brushing their teeth at specific times and for the recommended two minutes. It can be tempting to resort to threatening statements about scary dental procedures, but this will only serve to increase your children's anxiety about going to the dentist. Making the dentist a source of fear can even lead to an unhealthy avoidance of dental appointments in adults. Rather than resorting to threats and punishments, praise your kids when they get it right and reward them for cavity-free dental checkups.

Learn more about how to promote healthy teeth for kids in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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