How to introduce good dental health habits
Jen Carricato, Senior Health Education Consultant, Capital BlueCross | 02.14.17
Healthy habits start early. Children like to copy what others do, so use this to your advantage, especially when it comes to healthy habits like brushing your teeth! Good dental health impacts a child's overall health. Mouth pain or persistent toothaches can lower school performance, reduce social relationships and lead to eating, speaking and learning difficulties. It's hard for children experiencing pain to pay attention and focus.
So what can we do? At our house we make brushing our teeth fun! I allow my four-year-old to choose her own toothbrush. We brush our teeth together, while singing or listening to a song. Sometimes being a good role model is all kids need to want to brush on their own.
Good dental health starts when your child is a baby. Here are some important tips to keep their teeth healthy and strong:
- From the time your child is born, you can help prevent cavities by wiping their gums with a soft washcloth or baby toothbrush.
- Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle. Once teeth begin to emerge, check regularly for spots or stains on teeth.
- Take your child to the dentist for a checkup by the time they are one-year-old. Talk to your pediatrician, family doctor, nurse, or dentist about putting fluoride varnish on their teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.
- If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist, family doctor, or pediatrician if your child needs oral fluoride supplements.
- Start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when they are two-years-old. You can start sooner, if a dentist or doctor suggests it. Make sure your child spits out the toothpaste after brushing - if young children swallow too much fluoride toothpaste, their adult teeth may have white spots.
- Provide healthy foods, and limit sweet snacks and drinks.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups.
- Around age 7 or 8, kids can brush their own teeth. Watch your kids to make sure they brush for at least two minutes, get all of their teeth and spit out the toothpaste.
It's never too early to start a good habit like brushing your teeth!
Jen Carricato, is a Senior Health Education Consultant for Capital BlueCross. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University. Jen has 5 years of experience in health education and wellness. Her professional interests include worksite wellness, maternal child health and education, childhood obesity, breastfeeding initiatives, and health-based preventative intervention programming. Jen enjoys spending her time with her husband and their 4 year old daughter as well as running, painting and being outdoors.