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February 13th, 2016

Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy: Part Two

Category: dental health

choosing your childs dentist

Last week we talked about how February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. It’s important to take time with our kids to show them the importance of dental health.

After all, the mouth is the gateway to the body—meaning that the mouth greatly affects our total health, and that when we have a healthy mouth we often have a healthy body.

During Childhood: What We Can Do

Last week we talked about just how important it is to start taking your child to Dr. Hagen at around age 3. Besides taking our children to our dentist around that age (unless we were to tell you otherwise), there are other norms of tooth development during childhood.

First, kids will experience teeth that wiggle. Typically around age 6, kids will find that their teeth will begin to come loose. Generally speaking a good idea is to let the tooth come out naturally or with a bit of wiggling to help it come out with very little pain.
Cavities are also something to consider during this time. Again, in many cases due to high sugar in the diet, cavities can develop in our children’s teeth. There are steps we can take to make sure that kids reduce the likelihood of cavities, but also are educated on good oral health.

These steps include:

  1. Brushing for two minutes a day—at least. Take your time during this process and be sure that kids are brushing gently. In an ideal scenario, we might spend time brushing after every meal. Aim for two times per day, at minimum. Be sure to involve your children in the process and get creative to make it fun! Kids will enjoy it more if you are having fun, too. Verbalize how good of a job they are doing, why they are brushing their teeth, and even consider brushing your teeth as a family if that helps promote good oral health habits for all.
  1. Take a look at nutrition. Educate kids on how eating healthy can be delicious and can make them feel great! Emphasize the importance of instilling good dental hygiene habits at an early age. Since kids are often on the go, encourage healthy snacking from a young age if possible. This may mean planning ahead in order to avoid the more convenient, lower nutrient-dense (and sugar-heavy) snacks. Aim to avoid sugar-added drinks entirely if it’s possible, or keep them at a minimum since you know the damage they can do to teeth and overall health.dr hagen childrens dentist

When should kids start brushing their teeth by themselves?

It’s a good question, and every child is different—just like they are when it comes to tying their shoes. If we teach by example, many children can quickly pick up the habit and enjoy doing this on their own. Others are slower and less likely to pick up the habit on their own. Try to promote brushing their teeth as something fun and positive in your household to combat this notion.

On average, many kids have the ability to start brushing their teeth by themselves at age 4 or 5. It is at this age where they have the dexterity to be able to do so. If you notice your child is not taking enough time as they brush their teeth, consider some kind of timer to help them reach a goal.

When your child is around 7 or 8, they no longer need the baby toothbrush. At this point, they should be able to fully brush their teeth by themselves. A talking point used with many children is to discuss how although baby teeth fall out, they are important because they help “set up” our adult teeth. In other words, they set the stage for our adult teeth to come in.

“These Teeth Are For Life”

Communicate with your children that unlike the other bones in their body, our teeth do not “self-repair” in the same way. Although our gums do have the ability to “self-repair,” it is important for children to see why they need to take care of their teeth—even if they don’t have all their adult teeth in yet. Once they do have their adult teeth in, they should be aware that these are for life!

Another “norm” in our culture that can’t be forgotten is the Tooth Fairy! Technically, by the time our children have a full set of adult teeth, they will have lost 20 baby teeth…that’s a lot of teeth for the Tooth Fairy

Acting as the tooth fairy, many times parents give children around $1 for each tooth—or at least, when kids remember to leave it for the fairy! If your family is interested in the tradition, you can use the Tooth Fairy as a way to encourage good dental habits. Again, it’s just one more way you can promote education as well as good brushing habits.

Have questions about your child’s specific dental health? Or are you ready to bring your child in for their first visit to the dentist? Give us a call today at (513) 251-5500 or visit our website here.

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