During the bedtime battle with your little one, it might be easy to skip over tooth brushing, but it’s one of the most important tasks you can do to teach your child habits that promote a lifetime of healthy smiles. The Centers for Disease Control reports that untreated tooth decay can lead to pain and problems with eating, speaking and even learning. That’s why Dr. Shefali Patel of Ivory Dental Health in Plainfield, IL, recommends starting your kids early on the path to good dental hygiene.
Dr. Patel and the Ivory Dental team advise parents to take the following steps to make oral health fun for their kids.
- Start Soon: Even though they don’t have teeth yet, babies need oral maintenance, too. The National Institutes of Health recommends wiping your baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth or gauzy pad after feedings to prevent bacteria buildup. If you give your baby a bottle to settle her to sleep, never serve anything but water. Sugary and fatty liquids such as juice or milk can settle into the gums and affect the teeth that are already embedded within your baby’s jaw line. Once a tooth comes in, use a soft-bristled brush with no toothpaste to clean it.
- Involve Your Doctor: Ivory Dental Health wants your children to be comfortable with the dentist and the dentist’s office from the start. Parents should explain to children that the dentist is a person who will make sure that their teeth and mouths are healthy so that they don’t get cavities or get sick later on. Some kids might be afraid of going to the dentist, so many dentists suggest bringing in small children for a “trial run” before an actual appointment so they can become comfortable with the sights and sounds of a dentist’s office and are able to ask questions.
- Make it Routine: Making good oral health a part of your child’s day will help them carry good habits throughout their lives. At mealtimes, explain to your son or daughter that eating foods low in sugar keep their teeth strong and bright. When they are old enough, Dr. Patel urges parents to supervise their children during tooth brushing, which should happen twice a day, every morning and right before bed. Small children should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Dr. Patel also recommends that tooth-brushing sessions should last roughly two minutes. Some parents and kids find that singing a favorite song can help pass the time, and it also can serve as a way to measure how long brushing is needed.
Introducing your children to good dental habits early, such as tooth brushing and eating nutritious foods, will give them the building blocks they need for decades of pearly-white grins. For more advice, visit the Ivory Dental website at http://www.ivorydentalhealth.com.
About Dr. Shefali Patel:
Ivory Dental was started by Dr. Shefali Patel as part of a joint medical/dental clinic. She and her husband, Dr. Kalpesh Patel (Advanced Integrative Medicine), opened their clinic in August of 2005.
Dr. Shefali Patel received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She continued her post-graduate education at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry to earn her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Dr. Patel’s philosophy is to put the patient’s needs and oral health before anything else in the office, which includes helping patients overcome dental phobias.