The VPK students at our Cape Coral and North Fort Myers preschool locations recently had a visit from Pediatric Dentistry of Fort Myers. Mr. Jeff came and spoke with our VPK classes about the importance of healthy eating and the impact it has on the health of our teeth and mouths. Mr. Jeff taught our keen listeners how to make better choices in the grocery store as well as how to brush and floss properly.
We decided to take the lessons learned from this visit and break them down into a handy list of tips that will support you and your children’s dental health!
1. Make tooth brushing time fun
When it’s time for your little ones to brush their teeth, make it fun! This can be done by playing your children’s favorite song and having a two minute dance party while brushing. You can also read them a story while brushing and use silly voices for the characters. If tooth brushing time is fun, your children will want to do it – make it special!
2. Establish a routine and stick to it
In order to ensure your children create the habit of proper tooth brushing, it is important to establish a routine and adhere to it. Ensure you are brushing at the same times each morning and every night. It can be easy to break this habit when on vacation or when you’re exhausted after a long day, however establishing good hygiene habits early will pay great dividends in the long run.
3. Try and limit sugary foods and drinks
Sugary sweets and drinks are a large contributor to cavities and tooth decay. Be sure to limit the amount of sweets you give your children and substitute bad foods for healthy snacks. For example, next time your child wants a sweet snack, offer them apple slices with peanut butter. If you do provide a sugary drink to your children, try using a (reusable or paper) straw. Drinking through a straw limits your children’s teeth to sugar exposure.
4. Make sure your children eat breakfast every day
There’s evidence that young people who eat a high protein breakfast have noticeable reductions in cravings for sweets later in the day.*
5. Replace tooth brushes every 3 months
Replacing you and your children’s tooth brush every 3 months can assist in reducing the spread of harmful bacteria. You should also replace your tooth brushes after being sick.
6. Choose a dentist your family will like and trust
Many children can associate going to the dentist with a bad experience. Finding a dentist in your area that caters well to children can help mitigate this anxiety and even make it a fun experience. Pediatric Dentistry of Fort Myers is great at making trips to the dentist fun. Their offices come to life with playful characters and décor. They also provide a variety of games and activities for the children to use while waiting. Click here to visit their website.
7. Reward healthy activity
Leave little treats from the tooth fairy every now and then when your children show they are practicing healthy oral and dietary habits. You can also use a sticker chart and place a sticker on the chart for each day your children brush their teeth without having to be asked. A perfect week or month can then be rewarded with a bigger prize like a family trip to the mini golf park!
8. Teach the importance of flossing
Many families (adults and children) skip flossing in their tooth brushing routine. Flossing is incredibility important for a healthy mouth and can prevent gum disease.
9. Lead by example
Your actions will speak much louder than your words, so please, please, please practice what you preach. It can be a good idea to brush and floss with your children, making it a family time activity.
10. Go shopping
To get your children to be more engaged with their tooth brushing routine, have them go tooth brush shopping with you. Allow them to choose their very own tooth brush! This will make children take pride in their tooth brush, and in-turn make them excited about brushing their teeth. We recommend selecting a tooth brush that has an ADA Seal of Acceptance.
*“Breakfast Research and Statistics” Mr. Breakfast (University of Missouri). August 2014. http://www.mrbreakfast.com/glossary_term.asp?glossaryID=152