As children grow up, they must be taught good values and lessons that will shape them into good and healthy individuals. One of those is instilling the importance of having good dental health. As early as possible,they must be enlightened that taking care of their teeth and mouth is as paramount as taking care of the other parts of their body.
Why is dental health important for children?
Teaching kids the significance of good dental health plays a crucial role as it impacts their overall well-being, development, and quality of life. Here are some major highlights on the importance of dental health in children:
- Prevention of Tooth Decay: Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups help kids avoid tooth decay, which, if it happens, can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty eating, affecting their daily lives and nutrition.
- Promotion of Healthy Gums: Brushing and flossing promote healthy gums in children, which are vital to their overall oral health. Healthy gums prevent gum diseases and infections, ensuring a strong foundation for their teeth.
- Good Oral Development: Cultivating good dental habits is a key factor in the development of permanent teeth in children. Having good oral hygiene at an early age and addressing dental issues as early as possible ensures that their teeth come in correctly and are well-aligned.
- Enhanced Speech Development: Healthy teeth and gums are essential for proper speech development, specifically by contributing to the clear articulation of speech sounds. Furthermore, proper dental health aids in the development and maintenance of strong and coordinated oral motor skills such as the movement and coordination of the tongue, lips, and jaw.
- Self-Esteem and Confidence: Children who practice good dental health have whiter and stronger teeth, which increases their self-esteem and confidence. They are more likely to smile, socialize, and engage in activities with confidence.
What are the good oral habits that children must learn?
Creating a good dental habit begins at an early age and can be continued until one advances in age. Dr Cornelius Tan, general dentist in Singapore at PKWY Dental, encourages that children practice the following good dental habits:
- Brushing Teeth: Children must be encouraged to brush their teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime, using a fluoride toothpaste. Proper brushing techniques, including brushing all surfaces of the teeth and tongue, must also be taught.
- Flossing Daily: Aside from brushing, children must also learn how to floss once a day to remove plaques and particles stuck between their teeth and below their gum lines. Flossing is important as it helps prevent cavities and gum disease.
- Using Mouthwash: Once appropriate for their age, children can start to use mouthwash that is child-friendly and alcohol-free to kill bacteria in their mouth and freshen their breath.
- Consuming a Healthy Diet: Encourage kids to eat foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. On the other hand, foods and beverages that are high in sugar should be avoided, as these can lead to tooth decay.
- Drinking Water: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day should also be instilled in kids. Water helps rinse the mouth and keeps the mouth hydrated, which is important not just in the dental aspect but also in one’s overall oral health.
- Regular Dental Check-ups: At an early age, kids should be informed about the importance of regular dental check-ups and dental cleanings with a dentist. By doing so, they are able to recognize that check-ups are part of their oral health care.
- Wearing Mouthguards: When playing sports or engaging in physical activities, kids should wear mouthguards to protect their teeth and jaws from injury.
- Avoiding Nail Biting and Teeth Grinding: Habits like nail biting or teeth grinding should be discouraged, as these can damage their teeth and affect oral health.
- Proper Toothbrush Care: As a primary tool in cleaning their teeth, kids should be able to learn how to take care of their toothbrush by rinsing it after using it and replacing it every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are worn.
- Creating a Routine: Establish a consistent oral hygiene routine, emphasizing the importance of maintaining good dental habits every day.
- Addressing Dental Anxiety: Address any dental anxiety or fears children may have by explaining dental procedures in an age-appropriate and reassuring manner.
What is the role of parents and caregivers in children’s oral health?
Parents and caregivers play a key role in the dental health of their children, as they are the ones who set examples by teaching and guiding them with proper dental health care. Here are some points on how parents and caregivers can help with their children’s dental health:
- Teach them proper oral hygiene: Parents should teach their kids proper brushing and flossing techniques so that they can learn how to take care of their own teeth. Furthermore, they should supervise their children until they are old enough to do it effectively on their own.
- Be a role model: Parents should demonstrate good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing their own teeth daily, for children to observe and imitate. They should also talk with their children about the importance of dental health and how taking care of their teeth will help them achieve cleaner and whiter teeth and avoid toothaches.
- Create a Positive Dental Experience for Kids: Introduce children to dentists at an early age so that they will become familiar with the dental environment gradually. Also, use positive language and avoid negative and scary words that would inculcate fear when discussing things related to their dental health, such as visiting a dentist.
- Address and correct oral health misconceptions: Parents should listen attentively, identify some dental misconceptions that children have, and correct them nicely. Moreover, they should create a safe environment wherein children can discuss any questions or curiosity about dental health.
- Establish a routine: Having a consistent habit such as brushing in the morning and before bedtime can help children develop good dental practice. Habits like this can reinforce the importance of dental hygiene. Parents can also develop a practice in their households wherein they brush and floss with their kids.
Childhood is one of the most formative years of one’s life. This is where one learns to walk, talk, and form habits that may be carried all through life. Teaching kids the importance of good dental health and establishing a routine to maintain it is necessary to ensure that they will grow up as adults who value not just this specific health aspect but also their overall health.