Chances are as parents we are all looking for helpful hints and tips to help keep our kids healthy and happy. Recently, I received some great advice from my dentist in Bentleigh, who advised a simple way to get my children to take up healthy habits is to perform them myself. She told me it’s useful to role model the good behaviours we want our children to perform so they familiarise themselves with these behaviours on a daily basis and they’re more likely to copy them and create healthy long term habits.
Demonstrating good mouth hygiene and teeth cleaning habits is the first step in preventing family dental problems. Better Health has some easy teeth care tips, like cleaning your teeth twice a day and using fluoride toothpaste, both of which help fight decay. However, as well as good teeth care, we also want our kids to refrain from bad behaviours which could damage their teeth.
Therefore, from an early age, it is important to education your children on the benefits of healthy teeth and how they can keep them looking shiny and pearly white. Below are harmful habits that can damage your families teeth and should be avoided:
Brushing too hard
Brushing too hard can ‘kill your teeth with kindness’ according to Dr Peter Alldritt, chairman of the Australian Dental Association oral health committee, as it can wear away gums and lead to decay because it leaves teeth exposed to bacteria. Remember to show your kids how to brush softly and buy soft toothbrushes to prevent them brushing to vigorously.
Another habit which you should disencourage your children from doing is biting their nails. The Academy of General Dentistry attributes nail biting to cracks, chips or the overall wear and tear of teeth. This damage is likely to be done over time, but the impact on your teeth can’t be ignored. Try a bitter tasting nail polish to help kids break this bad habit.
Say no to sugary snacks
Although it may not be realistic to think that we can remove sugar entirely from our children’s diets, we can look to reduce the amount of sugary snacks and drinks we allow them to have, and across what time period. Giving your kids sugary food or drinks all day will increase the risk of cavity causing bacteria breaking down and damaging their teeth.
One prevention technique is to make sure your children eat a balanced diet, and when you do allow them a sugary treat try to follow this up with a glass of water to wash away any sugary leftovers, or aim to clean their teeth when possible after the item.
Eating or chewing ice is another habit which can damage your teeth. If your children are chewing or crunching ice try to remove this temptation by serving them chilled drinks without ice, as this behaviour can lead chips, cracking as well as erosion of tooth enamel. Try to avoid ice at all costs, and hopefully you’ll avoid fillings in the future too.
Grinding your teeth
Teeth grinding, or bruxism as it’s formally known, is usually related to stress in adults however it is not uncommon for children to suffer from clenching or grinding their teeth whilst sleeping. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, 30% of children experience bruxism. There are a number of treatments for bruxism, however, they depend on the specific trigger. For adults suffering with stress related bruxism, mouthguards are a popular treatment.
Using your teeth as tools
Another harmful behaviour you don’t want your children to copy is using your teeth as tools. Such as using them to carry things, bite or rip things like sellotape will certainly increase your risk of cracking or damaging your teeth.
Dental healthcare doesn’t have to be hard work as long as you implement bite sized habits and communicate their benefits to your family members as you go. That way the work you do up front will prevent gum disease and dental problems later in life; benefiting you and your family in the long term.