6 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Teeth and Gums Healthy (Plus Tips from Experts)
I received complimentary products from Oxyfresh to help facilitate this post. All ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own. This post also contains affiliate links, from which I’ll earn a commission when products are purchased (at no extra cost to you).
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. But it’s always a good time to learn more about healthy gums and teeth and the importance of brushing teeth for kids.
As a mom, I know how challenging it is to make your kids love their teeth as much as you do. Brushing twice a day, avoiding sugary treats as much as possible, and flossing aren’t necessarily fun things for kids to do.
But your oral health affects so much of your overall health that neglecting it can lead to big issues down the road.
Your child has probably known since toddlerhood how brushing, flossing, and eating the right foods can help them maintain healthy teeth and gums. But how can you continue to promote a good attitude about your child’s dental health and the importance of brushing teeth?
These kid-friendly tips can help:
This post was updated on May 13th, 2020, and was originally written on February 2nd, 2019.
Oral Hygiene for Kids The Importance of Brushing Teeth
Starting good oral hygiene habits now with your child sets them on a path for healthy gums and teeth in the future.
Start Dentist Appointments Early (and Lead By Example)
I started bringing both of my kids to the dentist as soon as they got their first teeth (yes, they were babies!). The first few appointments resulted in screaming, squirmy kids, but guess what?
They now sit there in the dentist chair (albeit, not super thrilled about it), knowing what to expect and dealing with the 30-minute visit for a cleaning and exam.
I know a lot of parents who wait until their kids get most of their baby teeth in to bring their kids – closer to preschool age – and by then, anxiety is at a whole new level. The way I see it, the earlier you get them familiar with the dentist and what the process entails, the better your chances of having smooth visits later.
After all, there’s no such thing as being too proactive when it comes to your kid’s dental health.
And that goes for you, too, Mama. Get your butt into the dentist at least once a year for your checkup and cleaning. When your kids see you doing what you have to do to take care of your pearly whites, they’ll realize it’s an important lifelong commitment.
Make Drinking Water Fun
Most kids would opt for juice and other sugary drinks over water. Water’s boring and bland.
It’s also one of the things your body needs a lot of – and your teeth crave it too!
While having a sugary drink once in a while isn’t a no-no, it’s best to get more water into your child’s diet to prevent damage to his enamel that protects teeth.There's no such thing as being too proactive when it comes to your kid's dental health. #dentalhealthmonth #oralhealth Click To Tweet
Fortunately, there are several ways to make drinking water more fun than just handing him a glass and saying, “Drink up!”.
You can also pour no-sugar-added juice into ice cube trays, freeze them, and add them to water to keep it ice cold. It gives your kid’s water just a hint of sweetening without going overboard with the sugars.
When she does have a sugary drink, remind her to brush her teeth after (if you’re away from home, you can have her swish and drink some water afterward for a quick cleanse).
Keep Them Protected
We tend to always think of cleanliness when it comes to dental health. But potential injuries are something else to consider with your child’s mouth full of teeth. Kids can be rough and tough. And it’s all too easy to have an unfortunate accident with one of those adorable little teeth.
If your child participates in sports, it’s important to remind them to use equipment to safeguard their teeth. Some sports, like football and baseball, typically require kids to wear mouthguards and helmets that protect the mouth. Not all sports do, though. There’s nothing wrong with you requiring a mouthguard to protect her teeth, even if the league doesn’t have it as a rule!
Did you know? The American Dental Association (ADA) even recommends wearing a mouthguard for riding a bike!
Fitting a mouthguard can be a challenge, especially if your child has a strong gag reflex. This video is a good demonstration for making sure you have the right size and mold it properly to protect your kiddo’s teeth.
Let Them Crunch
The crunchier the better when it comes to fresh vegetables and fruit – for your child’s health and his teeth!
Fruits and vegetables with crunch – like celery, carrots, apples, pears, and broccoli – are rich in fiber, which boosts your kid’s digestive system, but there are oral benefits to eating these crunchy foods too!Healthy teeth tip: The crunchier, the better! Crunchy veggies and fruits keep those teeth doing their job and work as natural cleansers to improve your child's dental health. #nationalchildrensdentalhealthmonth #oralhealth Click To Tweet
The fiber in these foods actually works as a natural cleaning agent for teeth. The small fibers work to scrub away food particles as you eat them, almost in the same way floss does! And the more your child chews, the more saliva she produces to cleanse the teeth and gums.
Use Products That Care About Kids’ Oral Health
Not everything that’s supposed to be good for our health is actually good for our health. As moms, we probably know that more than anyone. But did you know that there can be some harmful stuff in the oral products you usually buy?
Many types of mouthwash, for example, contain more alcohol content than an alcoholic drink. That’s obviously something you don’t want your little one to use, especially if they haven’t yet mastered the art of swishing and spitting.
There can also be toxic ingredients in some kinds of toothpaste, like:
- Artificial dyes: They’re totally unnecessary aside from adding color. There’s a lot of research connecting artificial coloring with things like ADHD, allergies, learning deficits, and more.
- Triclosan: This ingredient gets added to toothpaste to help prevent gingivitis, but it’s also linked to altered hormones in animals.
- Artificial sweeteners: Toothpaste would taste pretty gross if it wasn’t for flavorings, but some contain artificial sweeteners, like saccharin, that can have some potentially dangerous effects on health.
- Abrasives: Some toothpaste brands add abrasive agents to their formulas to help clean teeth when you brush, but those abrasives can wear down the very enamel that protects teeth!
It’s so important to use oral care products that will take care of your child’s teeth like you need them to.
I was recently introduced to Oxyfresh, a USA brand that offers a full line of dental care products you can count on. Oxyfresh’s line of toothpaste, mouthwash, and soothing dental gel consist of essential oils for natural flavor, and contain no dyes, alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or toxic ingredients.
Oxyfresh’s low-abrasion formulas are perfect for kids to use daily. They’re super gentle for even the most sensitive mouths and their yummy flavors (Fresh Mint and Lemon Mint) are pleasing instead of overpowering. This is a huge plus for my very picky 6-year-old, who won’t use any toothpaste he deems too strong (Lemon Mint is a hit with him!).
And, Oxyfresh even adds its own ingredient called Oxygene, which is a non-toxic additive that neutralizes bad breath instead of masking it. You can get rid of your child’s fantastic (yea right…) morning breath once and for all!
Since using Oxyfresh products, I’ve noticed such a difference in my own mouth too. I love both flavors, but Lemon Mint is also my favorite. The toothpaste is incredibly gentle and makes my teeth look even cleaner than most whitening toothpaste. And the mouthwash is my new favorite oral health product! It’s almost unbelievable how refreshing and cleansing it is, unlike the harsh alcohol-based ones I’ve used in the past.
This stuff is a serious game changer for the family.
Don’t Forget the Tongue!
I had no idea as a kid that brushing my tongue was important. In fact, I didn’t learn that it was until I was in my teens and my new dentist mentioned it. Come to find out, it was a crucial part of dental health. I, unfortunately, overlooked it because no one had shared that tidbit with me until then. Everything I heard was always about the importance of brushing teeth, not the tongue.
Your tongue hosts a lot of yucky bacteria that brushing your teeth alone won’t get rid of. That bacteria is responsible for plaque buildup, the spread of germs, and bad breath.
While it’s awesome that you teach your kids the importance of brushing teeth and flossing the right way, you should also make it a point to remind them about keeping their tongue clean. They can brush their tongue with their toothbrush, but I prefer to use a tongue scraper (Oxyfresh makes an excellent tongue scraper that’s easy to hold and use!). They’re made specifically to cradle the tongue for maximum reach to remove as much bacteria as possible.
More Pediatric Health Tips from the Experts
Want a few more tips for keeping your child’s teeth and gums plaque-free, strong, and healthy? The following infographic was graciously provided by Grove Dental Associates to help parents and caregivers like you identify some common dental issues in children and how to solve them.
This infographic was created by Grove Dental, a pediatric dentist
Helping young kids understand the importance of brushing teeth can set them on a path for a healthy mouth for the rest of their lives. It’s just as important as keeping their bodies healthy! Do you have any tips to share with other parents? Feel free to jot them down below in the comments!