After all the cookies, cakes, and candy that came with the holidays, it’s time to get your kids back on track when it comes to their dental health! Stores are already stocking up on Valentine’s treats, so now is the perfect time to review their hygiene habits and make changes if needed. Here at Children’s Dental Center, we’re all about healthy mouths, and we’ve put together a few of our top tips to help you keep your child’s smile in shape in 2019. Keep reading below to learn more!

How does their dental hygiene routine look?

As parents, you probably already know how important brushing and flossing is when it comes to keeping teeth and gums healthy and clean. You may already have a good routine going with your child, but because guidelines and recommendations can change, it’s worth reviewing what you’re doing from time to time. This ensures you’re doing everything you can to keep their smile sparkling!

Many people don’t realize that how you brush and floss is almost as important as how often you do it. Unfortunately, bacterial plaque that is allowed to accumulate can cause cavities and tooth decay, and may even lead to gum disease eventually. In order to successfully remove it, there are some basic rules you should always follow when helping your child clean their mouth. If you’re still brushing for them, you can emphasize these basics as you go.

  • Brush all the teeth, every time you brush.
  • Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle gently against the gum line.
  • Brush from the base of the tooth up to the chewing surface.
  • Use short, round strokes for the front and the back of teeth.
  • Use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces.
  • Be consistent when brushing across each tooth.
  • Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front.

Flossing can be frustrating for kids, but if you give it some time and lots of patience, they’ll eventually catch on! If they aren’t quite able to handle it on their own, do your best to floss for them as you’re able. As your child’s teeth begin to fill in, with tooth surfaces touching, plaque and food can settle between teeth. This can lead to tooth decay and even gum disease if it’s left untreated, so flossing at least once a day is important, even if you’re dealing with baby teeth. These are the placeholders for the adult teeth, so you should treat them with the same amount of care. To help your child get the most out of flossing, try the following tips.

  • Choose a floss that’s soft and gentle on your child’s gums, like flavored floss.
  • Measure a length of floss that runs from roughly your fingers to your elbow.
  • If you’re letting your child do this part themselves, wrap the floss around their fingers, but be sure it’s not too tight.
  • Gently guide your child’s fingers, showing them how to glide the floss in between the teeth.
  • Show them how to make the floss into a C shape and curve it beneath the gum line, taking care to not press too hard or dig too deep.
  • Teach them to shift the floss to the next finger between each tooth so that fresh floss is being used in each space.

If this seems overwhelming, there’s an easy way to up your flossing game! Check out the variety of child-friendly floss sticks available in lots of different colors and flavors. They usually come in cost-effective packs, and give kids – and parents – a little extra room for error.

doctor talking to a patient after treatment

Keep up with checkups!

Tooth decay is very common in young children – even more common than asthma, in fact! This is why the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a checkup every six months. During these visits, one of our doctors will perform an examination of your child’s mouth to check for any issues. We’ll give their teeth a thorough cleaning, too, and if they’re due for x-rays, we can include them as well. This process lets us rule out any potential cavities and catch any concerns that aren’t immediately apparent, keeping your child’s smile in the best shape possible throughout the year.

Healthy foods make for a healthier smile

What your child is eating and drinking can have an impact on how their smile looks and feels. If you haven’t already, now is the time to begin building healthy food habits. Meals and snacks that are good for your child’s body, mind, and mouth are what you want to aim for! This includes items such as:

Milk and other dairy products

Whether it’s a glass of milk, a cheese string, or a pot of Greek yogurt, these snacks pack a calcium-filled punch that will help keep your child’s bones and teeth strong.

Whole grain bread and pastas

Complex carbohydrates give bacteria less digestible food to grow. They also offer an abundance of nutrients to help keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.

Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish

Although protein is the star of this show, these foods also contain phosphorus, an important mineral that strengthens and protects your child’s tooth enamel.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Teaching your child to enjoy “eating the rainbow” is one of the best things you can do for their oral health! A variety of fruits and veggies offer high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, minerals that are instrumental in maintaining oral health.

doctor talking to a boy about his teeth

Children’s Dental Center can help your child’s smile shine in 2019

Here at Children’s Dental Center, we help families build a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Our pediatric dentists are experts in their field, and provide the highest quality care to all our patients, but that’s not all! You can count on us if you have any questions or concerns, or simply need a little extra help with your child’s dental health. While the simple tips we’ve listed above give you a great start this year, our team will always go above and beyond to guarantee your child the brightest, healthiest smile, in 2019 and beyond!