Developing Healthy Habits for Terrific Teeth
Published on Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Even if your child is only an infant or toddler, you can start now to help your child develop strong, healthy teeth and build habits that last a lifetime.
- Put your baby to bed without a bottle. Liquid pools in the front of the mouth and bacteria changes the liquid sugars into acid, which then eats away at teeth.
- Begin cleaning your infant’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Use a damp cloth to swab clean.
- When more teeth emerge, use a small, soft-bristled brush and water only. Around age 2 or 3 add a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush.
- As your child gains hand and finger control, encourage him to brush his own teeth. Supervise until around the age of 7 or 8.
- Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste, not swallow. Fluoride fights decay, but if too much is swallowed, permanent teeth may develop white spots.
- Teach your child to brush after breakfast and before bedtime. Explain that germs in the mouth attack traces of food left on teeth and make cavities.
- Set an example. Children will be more likely to adopt brushing as a habit if they see you brushing.
- Use vertical, not horizontal, motion.
- Provide a healthy diet that emphasizes fruits, whole grains, vegetables, milk products, meats, and eggs.
- Cut out sugary and starchy snacks. Instead of offering chips and cookies, encourage fruits, veggies and cheese. Offer water instead of fruit drinks.