Cool Dental Tips for Kids & Teens
From toddlers to teens, getting a healthy smile is child’s play with this simple advice
Let’s face it: It’s tough to get kids excited about dental care. Maybe it’s your six-year-old hiding her toothbrush. Or your teenager who thinks flossing is for “nerds.”
But when kids realize how quick, easy and even fun good oral hygiene can be—and see a great smile the mirror—the job gets a little easier. And your child’s self-esteem gets stronger.
Toddlers & oral health
Most toddlers have a set of 20 teeth by the age of three. Are your little ones already brushing? Great! Just lend them a hand to make sure they’re brushing effectively. And if they’re not brushing, get them started with this routine:
- Brushing: Toddlers should brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Have them spit out any residue and rinse with water. Note: Check with your child’s dentist on when to introduce fluoride toothpaste.
- Flossing: Help your children floss at least once a day to reach places their toothbrush can’t.
- Follow up: Check your little one’s teeth after they brush to ensure all food particles are gone. Plus, if you’re involved, it reinforces the importance of good oral hygiene to your child.
Parental tip: Make things fun!
If getting your child to brush and floss is like pulling teeth, shake things up! Try brushing your teeth with your child. Use matching toothbrushes, sing songs or play brushing games to put some giggles into good oral hygiene.
Young children & oral health
Most children begin to lose their “baby” teeth at age six or seven, when permanent teeth break through. This is a crucial time you to actively aid and encourage your kids to make (and keep up) good dental habits.
- Eat those veggies: Encourage a good dental diet rich in calcium, fruits and vegetables. Vitamins from these foods (primarily A, C and D) not only help incoming teeth, but growing bones and bodies, too.
- Toss the sugary snacks: It’s hard for kids to eat right with so many activities during the day. But unhealthy snacking between meals bathes their teeth in sugar and wears down tooth enamel. Plus, empty calorie foods contribute heavily to childhood obesity and diabetes.
- See your dentist: Make sure your child visits the dentist regularly. Ask if your child is receiving the proper amount of fluoride to help prevent tooth decay. Discuss sealants for your child’s teeth. Sealants are thin, plastic coatings that protect the teeth against decay.
- Follow up: Continue to lend a hand to your child with brushing and flossing until the age of 12. Your kids might pout, but this ensures your child is cleaning his/her mouth thoroughly—and shows that you care about your child’s well-being.
Teenagers: This one’s for you!
We're guessing your parents aren’t helping you hold your toothbrush anymore, so this part is for you. By this age, you probably have 28 teeth.
Not keeping your mouth healthy? If the idea of teeth stains, missing teeth and bad breath isn’t cool, here’s the easy way to keep your smile, look great and not miss a beat.
- Go light on the soda: Soft drinks, energy drinks and juice are popular and taste great, but they slam your teeth with acid. Sip through straws and rinse your mouth with water right after you drink that stuff. It will help keep your breath fresh and reduce your chance of cavities.
- Watch the snacks: On-the-go lifestyles can mean frequent snacking and less time at home. It happens. To minimize damage to your teeth (and stop “dragon breath”), chew sugar-free gum and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Ask for healthy snacks like cheeses, fruits and veggies at home.
- Brush and floss: Brush at least twice a day. Ask your parents for or buy a travel-size toothbrush/ toothpaste kit and portable flossing sticks when you’re on-the-go. Your mouth will love you for it—and your parents will think you’re pretty mature!
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