Caring for your teeth is a lifelong commitment, but the more you can do to help your kids maintain proper dental habits the more you can instill good dental care at any age.
Before Teeth Come In
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), baby bottle tooth decay can affect speaking, eating and concentration. The best way to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to never send baby to bed with a bottle. Babies may fall asleep before completely swallowing the milk or formula in their mouths. The liquid's natural sugars remain in the mouth, encouraging the proliferation of bacteria, which will create caries (small cavities). This type of decay can damage any teeth, but the front teeth are particularly at risk.
As First Teeth Appear
While you should let your child practice brushing his own teeth, you should also help each time to make sure the teeth are thoroughly brushed. It's also good to let your children see you brushing and caring for your teeth, since toddlers love to emulate their parents. Brush your teeth with your child, so that he can see you brush and you can supervise him to make sure he does it right. For example, hold your hand over his to show him how to hold the toothbrush.
Making dental care fun is one of the best ways to make it a habit at a young age. Choose a toothbrush with his favorite character and let him take an active role in brushing. Learn more about toddler tooth care in the Colgate Oral Care resources.
As Your Child Grows
As your child grows, it's important not only to continue to encourage regular brushing, rinsing and flossing but to make sure your child receives regular dental checkups, as well. The ADA recommends children visit the dentist within six months of their first tooth and no later than their first birthday. Even as children become more independent, they may still need assistance with proper brushing and flossing. Encourage kids to brush at least twice a day for two minutes and floss at least once a day. Kids at this age may still need help, especially with flossing. Continue to help guide your child with brushing technique.
Teen Dental Health
Help your teens maintain healthy teeth by educating them about the risks of drinking too much soda and limit the amount of sugary drinks they consume. Continue to encourage your teen to brush, floss and rinse regularly. Because teens are often more influenced by what they see than by what they hear, be sure to continue to demonstrate your own healthy dental habits. Teens may not admit it, but they are influenced by the behavior modeled by their parents.
Good dental care at any age is important, but if you begin when kids are young and remain consistent, you can help them make good dental habits that last a lifetime.