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The Importance of Children's Dental Health

General Dentistry

January 25, 2019
The importance of children's dental health, blog post

For healthy teeth and gums as an adult, you have to start taking care of your teeth when you’re young.

This starts with the parents. It’s your job to teach your kids healthy dental habits. Below, we will explain exactly how to do this.

But first, let’s talk about why dental health is so important.

Why Do Healthy Teeth and Gums Matter?

If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how painful it can be! Toothaches are usually caused by cavities. And cavities are caused by tooth decay.

Tooth decay happens when you don’t brush and floss.

After eating and drinking foods all day, it makes sense that your teeth get dirty. This “dirt” is actually called plaque. Brushing and flossing cleans your teeth and gets rid of plaque.

But when you don’t brush and floss, the plaque builds up. Over time, a lot of plaque will eat away at your teeth and cause holes. These holes are the cavities, and they can hurt a lot.

Signs of tooth decay and cavities are:
• Toothache: Dull or sharp pain in your teeth and gums
• Sensitive teeth: When you eat or drink something really hot or cold, it hurts
• Bad breath that won’t go away
• A bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away
• Black, grey, or brown spots on your teeth

Tooth Decay and Dental Work

Tooth decay can cause all sorts of other problems in your mouth.

For example, you may have to get fillings at the dentist. This means the dentist removes the decayed part of the tooth and replaces it with something like gold or porcelain. Fillings can be painful and expensive.

Another painful and expensive type of filling is a root canal. A root canal is necessary when a cavity is very bad and progresses inside the tooth.
Sometimes, very decayed teeth have to be pulled right away. They might be replaced with false teeth. But these can be hard to chew and eat with. As you get older, other problems may occur with both fillings and false teeth.

Tooth Decay and Self-Confidence

As kids grow up, tooth decay can be a problem for self-confidence. Brown or black spots on teeth can cause children to feel embarrassed when they smile and laugh.

While tooth decay has nothing to do with who you are as a person, it’s still important that children feel good about themselves. Taking good care of their teeth and gums is a big part of that. It will help them do better in school, make friends, and get a job later on.

Tooth Decay and Overall Health

Dental health also affects your overall health. It may be surprising, but some big health issues are directly linked the health of your teeth and gums.

For example, people who have a lot of tooth decay may also suffer from:
• Heart disease
• Strokes
• Heart attacks
• Diabetes

You Can Stop Tooth Decay

There’s good news. You can prevent tooth decay in yourself and your children.

Simply follow these guidelines:
#1 – Brush your teeth twice a day
After the age of two, everyone should brush their teeth two times a day:
• In the morning after breakfast
• At night before bed

Brush for at least two minutes, and use a fluoride toothpaste.

#2 – Floss your teeth twice a day
Every time you brush, you should floss too.

Flossing cleans in between your teeth. Food bits get stuck here every time you eat. Over time, this can cause cavities. Flossing gets the food bits out right away, so cavities can’t form.

#3 – Get a professional teeth cleaning at least once a year
Brushing and flossing removes most plaque. But a professional dental hygienist can do a better job. Once a year, make an appointment to get your teeth professionally cleaned.

At this appointment, you should also get checked for cavities. Usually, a dentist will do this. You might also get X-rays too, which give your dentist a closer look at your teeth. This way, they can catch cavities and fix them before they start becoming a problem.

Tips for Encouraging Healthy Dental Habits in Kids

It can be hard to convince children to brush and floss two times a day. Most people don’t enjoy brushing and flossing.

But it’s such an important habit that you’ve got to find a way to help your kids do it.

Here are some tips.
• Try singing a song: To help your child brush for a full two minutes, sing a song while you brush. You can find tooth-brushing songs online.
• Offer rewards: Put a calendar in the bathroom. Every time your child brushes, put a sticker on that day. Sometimes, this is enough of a reward for kids. But you can also offer week- or month-long rewards. For example, if they get two stickers per day for a week straight, you could give them 10 minutes of extra play time or let them choose their favorite snack.
• Visit the dentist early on: You should make a dentist appointment as soon as your child’s first tooth appears. Make the experience fun and light. This will help your child avoid fearing the dentist in the future.