As a parent, you try to do the right things for your kids. In addition to taking your little ones to regularly scheduled doctor appointments, packing healthy lunches and making sure your kids get enough exercise, it's your top priority to help your children grow up happy and healthy as best you can. You should also make sure your family's daily habits are not taking a toll on your kids' dental health. Children and tooth decay don't go together, so make sure you're not unwittingly teaching your kids poor dental hygiene.
Sweets between Meals
While a between-meals snack is part of most kids' daily schedules, the wrong types of food and drink could lead to tooth decay, warns the American Dental Association. Allowing your kids to nosh on candy, sweets and sugary juices between meals can be damaging. Instead, stick to healthier snacks with complex carbs: Think fruit instead of candy. If your kids want a sugary treat on occasion, offer it with a meal. The saliva produced to help digest larger quantities of food can help keep teeth bacteria-free.
Drinks before Bed
Consider rethinking your strategy if a sippy cup is part of your nightly routine. When kids drink juice, chocolate milk or even milk right before bed without brushing their teeth afterward, the sugar in those drinks lingers on the teeth, which can lead to decay and cavities. If you must offer your kids a drink before bed, make sure it is only water. If your child has a sugary drink before bedtime, make sure they brush their teeth before going to bed. If they balk, offer fun toothbrushes with their favorite characters and toothpaste with a mild flavor, such as Colgate® Kids 2in1 toothpaste and mouthwash.
Skipping Dentist Appointments
The University of Rochester Medical Center recommends that both kids and adults see a dentist for a regular checkup every six months. Skipping a couple of appointments because your kids' teeth appear to be fine could result in dire consequences. Your dentist is there not only to help with children and tooth decay; a typical appointment also involves preventive cleaning, discussing good oral health habits and helping kids get comfortable with regular dental care. Don't make the mistake of skipping appointments. Instead, always schedule the next six month appointment before you leave the dentist's office after your cleaning appointment.
What to Do
If you notice signs of tooth decay — such as pain or sensitivity, white spots on the teeth or signs of cavities (brown spots and, if further along, openings in the tooth surface) — schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately. Changing your child's habits can help prevent future cavities, but the existing cavities will need to be filled before your little one scores a clean bill of dental health. Your dentist can fill the cavities and offer tips for avoiding tooth decay in the future.
You definitely want what's best for your kids, so make sure that you don't forget about proper dental care. Even if you have to wedge oral hygiene somewhere between soccer games, homework, dinner, sleepovers and time with family, making dental health a priority allows your kids to have healthy teeth for life.