The body is a complex and fantastic machine that is constantly changing as kids get older. Teeth facts for kids, in particular, can spark interest in or provide skills to maintain their health that will last a lifetime. The mouth is the gateway to bodily health, so parents should start instilling care for their children's teeth and gums at a young age.
Bad Habits Are Contagious
To ensure your child stays healthy, it is important to avoid teaching them bad habits. Another one of a few teeth facts for kids is to avoid using the same spoon as someone else when eating, even a parent or sibling. Remember that tooth decay is a bacterial disease; this disease can spread anytime saliva is shared from person to person. Everyone knows that toothbrushes should not be shared – and spoons, forks and other utensils can carry the same germs.
Germs Cause Decay, Not Food
Another little-known fact is that candy is not what makes teeth decay; germs do. It's not what children eat, but how often they eat it - that is the problem. As long as parents and children are conscientious and care for their teeth properly after snacks and meals, no food has to be completely outlawed.
Save Fluoride for Later
Primary (baby) teeth should be brushed or wiped with a clean washcloth or baby soft toothbrush as soon as they come through the gums. Using a product like My First Colgate™ that is fluoride-free and swallow-safe is best if your child cannot spit on his own. As a child grows older, however, fluoride is a very important addition to their routine. Fluoride not only helps prevent tooth decay; it cures beginning cavities. Before a cavity gets through the hard outer covering of the tooth, known as enamel, products that contain fluoride to strengthen teeth can turn the weakening process around.
The 'Touch Points' of Floss
Once kids reach age two or three, their molars have drifted together to a point where parents should consider flossing the areas in between. Germs and food can get stuck in these areas and create problems, if left alone. The dental professional at your child's dental home (the dental office) can help you with tips and techniques for flossing a small child's teeth.
Teach by Example
When parents get excited about maintaining oral health, so do their kids! Be a good example for your child to follow. Brush your own teeth, floss and visit your dental professional regularly. The habits you teach your child will make an impression on them throughout their own adulthood.
Here are some other fun teeth facts for kids that you and your child can talk about together:
- Whales don't have teeth, but sharks have many sets, WildAid says 30,000 total teeth in a lifetime.
- Chinese citizens have a special holiday called "Love Your Teeth Day," held yearly on September 20.
- The average human produces 25,000 quarts of saliva in a lifetime, according to Tempe Smiles Dental.
- A snail's mouth is no larger than the head of a pin, but contains about 25 teeth on the tongue itself.
- In a recent poll, reports Delta Dental, one third of Americans surveyed stated bad breath was the least attractive trait in a friend.
- Odontophobia is the fear of seeking dental care.
- The enamel that covers the top part of the tooth is the hardest substance in the human body!
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the single most common chronic disease during childhood. To prevent this bacterial condition, education must begin at the earliest age possible. By the time your child is a year old, he should have a "dental home" – a pediatric dentist's office and source of education, preventive care and treatment as your child grows. Here, dental professionals can provide answers to questions, guidance on oral care products specialized for kids and an experienced opinion on your child's oral health.
Having fun and teaching your child the benefits of daily preventive care will not only keep their teeth healthy, but promote personal health of their entire body.
About the author: Emily Boge, RDH, BS, MPAc, is currently a health sciences public administration Master's degree candidate at Upper Iowa University and has practiced dental hygiene since 2003 in Manchester, Iowa. She is also the owner of Think Big Dental, a consulting and writing firm specializing in the education of corporations and health professionals on the role of a dental hygienist.