Tips for instilling good dental hygiene habits

Consistent, long-term dental health is built and cultivated from a foundation of good hygiene habits instilled at an early age. Adequate, daily hygiene not only contributes to healthy teeth and gums but also makes for a lovely smile. Good dental hygiene helps to build self confidence.

Here are 4 tips to help you encourage your child to develop effective dental hygiene habits:

Start teaching them to brush and floss their own teeth around age 6:

Brushing and flossing are the primary ways to remove bacteria from meals from teeth, the main cause for dental disease. You should begin brushing your child’s teeth when they first appear and as they grow older, around age 6 you can begin encouraging them to brush for themselves and teach them to floss.

Encourage healthy eating and snacking habits:

A nutritious diet is also important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Make sure your child is eating a varied, balanced diet of whole foods in appropriate portions. You should limit sugar and other carbohydrates (which accelerate growth of decay-causing bacteria) to mealtimes; offer limited, non-sugary snacks between meals.

Warn older children and teens about practices that are unhealthy for the mouth:

As children mature and enter their teen years, they come under increased pressure from peers to try unhealthy practices especially those which could unexpected damage to their teeth and gums. Oral piercings like tongue and lip bolts can increase tooth damage and gum recession, infection and bone loss. Tobacco use, both smoke and smokeless, can also cause tooth staining, increase the risk of decay, gum disease and oral cancer. Begin stressing the dangers these practices pose to their general and oral health before they reach puberty. Encourage them to talk to you before trying any strange practices.

Practice what you teach:

Let them see you do what you teach. They are more likely to listen to you when they see you practicing the habits you teach them. Modeling healthy behavior you want your child to learn is just as important as instructing them how to do it. When they’re very young, brushing teeth should be a family affair, allow them to see how you brush your teeth as you help them brush theirs. And, if you’re not sure if your hygiene techniques are worthy of emulation, there is always room for improvement. Learning with your child makes the process easier to absorb and makes for a fun bonding experience.

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