We all learn at an early age that our teeth is one of the most important part of our body. Our parents most likely enforced the rules of brushing our teeths early on and bought us adorable toothbrushes with superheroes or princesses on the handles just to get us excited. But back when I was a kid, I had only the generic toothbrushes with the generic kids toothpaste – and I had to brush my teeth no matter what. And if I didn’t, then I’d bear the consequences – cavities. Nobody likes cavities and for a young child, it’s even more dramatically painful. But diligence and good habits can hopefully prevent those cavities from creeping in.
According to a report by the CDCP, (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_11/sr11_248.pdf) a growing increase of preschoolers needing extensive dental work has been seen across the country. That’s pretty scary and unnecessary in my opinion. But we can’t blame the parents entirely. After all, kids see commercials and advertisements of sugary snacks on a daily basis and the temptation is too hard to resist. We should be wary of too much sugar especially for little kids who may have a bad experience at the dentist the first time they have a cavity filled. We all want to protect our children and instilling good teeth brushing as well as eating healthy foods is extremely important.
We started on a teeth cleaning regimen for our son when he was an infant. The pediatrician recommended a swiping of the gums every day without any toothpaste. And as our son got older and his teeth started coming out, we brushed his teeth with a gentle toothbrush especially made for infants as well as wiping his gums. He didn’t like it at first – but then after a few times, he started to enjoy it. I made sure to massage his gums and teeth in a gentle, soothing motion and sang a song each time we did it. Of course he didn’t really understand why we were constantly brushing his teeth and gums but because we did it on a regular basis, it became a habit for him and now that he’s older he knows he has to brush his teeth at least twice a day and especially after a sugary snack. It may sound extreme, but I have a friend who has never had a cavity. Why? Because she brushed her teeth after every meal and limited her sugary snack intake. According to a recent article on Baby Center: http://blogs.babycenter.com/products_and_prizes/preschoolers-going-under-for-cavities-giveaway/, snacking and sugary juices and drinks are the main culprit. But as parents, it’s hard for us to resist giving a sugary treat to our kids, even on certain occassions. And we may even forget to brush their teeth now and then too. Sure we may feel guilty afterwards, but we can always regain our stand by telling our kids to go brush their teeth now! They won’t really understand the demand, but they’ll most likely thank you for it later.
It’s not always easy getting your kids to do what you want them to do, and brushing their teeth is probably their least favorite job. It’s hard for kids to understand the need to have healthy hygiene but if we’re already teaching them to wash their hands before eating, after going to the bathroom, etc., then brushing their teeth should be on the top list as well. I think it’s best to start as early as possible as with most habits. Babies and infants may not like the feel of someone’s fingers in their mouths, but if you do it gently and every day, then they’ll most likely get used to it. And as children get older, I think it’s even more important for them to get in the habit of eating and snacking on healthier foods. There are lots of healthier “sweet” snacks that are less damaging to your teeth such as apples, oranges, grapes, watermelon, strawberries, and so forth and some fruits and vegetables even have antibacterial properties which are important for every day total health. And if you’re looking for toothpaste alternatives that do not contain sugar, preservatives, and any artificial flavors, then you might want to try natural toothpastes from companies such as Kiss My Face, Tom’s of Maine, and Branam.
We as parents should be the best role models for our children. After all, what happens when our kids are influenced by outside resources? We can only hope that the lessons we’ve taught our children early on and throughout their lives will teach them to make right choices and decisions.
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