Taking care of your mouth is an investment not only in taking care of yourself but also in caring for your family.
A bright smile and healthy teeth aren’t the only benefits of good oral health.
Proper oral care also impacts academic performance and general health. According to Delta Dental:
- “Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the country, and every year children miss 51 million hours of school because of oral health problems.”
- “Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease; it occurs when bacteria in the mouth grow into plaque, causing inflammation and bleeding in the gums. When left untreated, the plaque can spread below the gum line, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which increases the risk for systemic diseases, such as heart disease.”
- “Research has found a strong connection between periodontal (gum) disease and diabetes. Proper care of the mouth, including treatment of gum disease, may even help people with diabetes achieve better blood sugar control.”
Your mouth is the window into your body. Your mouth acts as an early warning system that something may be seriously wrong in your body. Are you listening to your mouth?
Cavities and Bleeding gums are not a normal part of childhood and aging.
When you do not take care of your mouth, your mouth can make you sick. Bleeding gums and gum disease can also contribute to preterm delivery or low birth weight, diabetes, Kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and more.
- Sharing is not caring when it comes to dental health. Do not share eating utensils nor “clean” a pacifier by putting it in your mouth. You give your child the bacteria from your mouth. The bacteria can spread and can cause cavities in your child’s mouth.
- After feeding your infant, clean your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth to prevent the buildup of plaque (soft, sticky bacteria) that can cause tooth decay or thrush. Don’t allow your baby to sleep with a bottle, as this can also cause tooth decay/cavities.
- As soon as teeth come through the gums, brush your baby’s teeth with a soft brush.
- When they are old enough, teach your kids to brush twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a thin layer of toothpaste for kids under 2. Assist them until they can hold the toothbrush on their own but continue to supervise proper brushing and flossing (once a day, as soon as teeth are in contact with each other) until age 8.
- When choosing a toothbrush, look for soft, rounded bristles that clean teeth, but are gentle on gums. Kids two and up can use a pea-sized dot of toothpaste. Choose smaller toothbrushes for their smaller hands and mouths. Letting them pick a toothbrush helps them be more responsible and engaged.
- Using disclosing agents or food coloring to stain the plaque is a fun experiment that will help you make sure you are not missing any areas.
- Brush your teeth alongside your kids to set a good example and motivate them to brush their teeth twice a day. They will enjoy imitating you! You’re making memories!
- Sing or play a song or recite a nursery rhyme for two minutes while they are brushing.
- Limit chewy, gooey snacks, such as raisins, fruit snacks, and candy, as they can stick to teeth and increase the risk of tooth decay/cavities. Sodas and juices can wear down the enamel that protects the teeth. They can also cause acid buildup that leads to cavities.
- Drink fluoridated water or ask your dentist if a fluoride supplement is needed to promote the formation of strong, healthy teeth. Tap water also helps neutralize acids.
- Take children to the dentist no later than their first birthday for a check-up. Ask the dentist about applying dental sealants to prevent cavities when they get their six-year molars.
- For young children that do not like to brush to the knee to knee, the technique is a two-person option we used in a mobile dental setting where I worked for toothbrushing.
- Toothbrushing for kids three and under Knee- to knee technique