With all the responsibilities parents have today, it is no wonder they often forget about oral health. However, taking care of your teeth and gums is crucial for a long, healthy life. But, how do you teach your children to care for their mouths? The best way is to lead by example since kids often watch and copy their parents. Visiting the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup is one way to have the best oral health; however, it is being consistent in your care every day that make the biggest overall difference.
Most children don’t understand that the mouth is full of bacteria that can lead to tooth decay, gum abscesses and various diseases. And those diseases can potentially compromise your heart and other organs. For that reason, not only do parents have to maintain their own oral health, but they must teach their children how to do the same by example.
Here are six important steps to the best oral hygiene:
Brush and Floss on a Consistent Basis
Brushing and flossing after every meal is common advice. But, a great number of people fail to do so consistently. Establish a daily routine to become accustomed to attending to your teeth, as well as your children’s. After breakfast and before bedtime are good times to brush and floss, so make it a priority for the entire family.
After lunch might pose a problem as this is a time you are likely busy with work, and your kids are at school. Have them carry a toothbrush and floss to make it more convenient. Most schools will allow students to take a couple of minutes to visit the restroom to take care of their teeth after a meal or snack. Consistent care saves you pain and money in the long run.
Use a Daily Dental Rinse
Add a dental rinse to your daily oral care plan. Choose a mouthwash that contains cetylpyridinium chloride. This chemical fights the bacteria that leads to plaque build-up on your teeth and helps prevent gingivitis. Follow the product’s directions and avoid swallowing the rinse. They make special mouthwash just for children, too, so look for one your kids will use regularly.
Also note that using a mouthwash during times you can’t brush and floss provides some protection against decay and disease, although it is not a replacement for these primary oral care tools.
Gargle with Salt Water
You and your family can bathe the mouth in warm salt water on a regular basis. This is an alternative to commercial rinses for those who want something more natural. Salty water lowers the mouth’s acidity, which helps inhibit bacterial growth. It also speeds the healing of wounds due to the heat and salt’s anti-inflammatory properties. So it is especially beneficial following any trauma to the inside of the mouth. Rinse once a day, but additional times won’t hurt.
Watch Out for Sugar
Pay attention to the sugar in your family’s diet. Sugar is a bane to teeth. It comes in highly processed forms such as candy, baked goods, salad dressings, sauces and condiments, and naturally in fresh and dried fruit. If you can’t brush and floss immediately after indulging in such foods, take time to rinse thoroughly with warm water to help clear some of the sugar off your teeth and out of your mouth. And lastly, encourage your children to eat a healthy diet full of teeth-friendly foods.
Check Your Children’s Teeth
Look for warning signs of dental issues. Take a look at the color and appearance of the gums. A light pink color is indicative of good hygiene, while red swollen gums are a problem. You or your children could have the beginnings of periodontal disease. Other signals of this condition include loose teeth, sensitivity, ongoing bad breath, bleeding and/or receding gums. See a dentist as soon as possible if you or your child suffers from any of these issues.
Just Say No to Smoking
You must stop one of the worst corrupters to your oral health. Also, parents who smoke have children who are more prone to smoke, too. Smoking cigarettes can cause serious damage to your oral health. There is a decrease in the oxygen in your bloodstream when you smoke. This leads to a growth in harmful bacteria in your mouth that causes plaque build-up and can worsen already present gum disease.
Get help quitting the tobacco habit to save your teeth and help prevent a myriad of other health concerns. There are a variety of products including gum, lozenges and patches to help you reduce and eventually end your reliance on nicotine. Seek professional counseling for additional support.
You want to be well, and you want your family to be well, too. And it starts at the top with the best oral hygiene. Practice good oral care and see your dentist frequently, so you can smile and feel good about yourself.
Teach your children, too, so they will create a strong habit of caring for their teeth and gums. Make it a family affair so your kids will pass it on to their kids, too. It’s a win-win for everyone.